Tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh gu feum sgeama nam busaichean as asgaidh a leudachadh

Ged a bha làn dùil ris, dh’fhoillsich Riaghaltas na h-Alba gum faigheadh iadsan nas òige na 22 bliadhna a dh’aois cothrom air busaichean na dùthcha an asgaidh bhon 31mh den Fhaoilleach an ath bhliadhna.

Bi sgeama nam busaichean an asgaidh feumail dha òigridh a’ bhaile mhòir, ach dè mu dheidhinn iadsan nach fhaigh cothrom air seirbheisean?

[English language version below]

Tha seo a’ dèanamh ciall aig diofar ìrean. ‘S e seo an ginealach as motha a dh’fhuiligeas bhon duilgheadas eaconamaigeach a thig às dèidh a’ ghalair.

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Fhad ‘s a tha iad ag ullachadh airson nan ciad ceumanan aca a ghabhail dhan t-saoghal mhòr agus cosnadh a dhèanamh, tha mì-chinnt is cruadal gu bhith mun coinneimh, leis gu feum an sporan poblach na chaidh a chur a-mach tron fhòrladh sa bhliadhna a dh’fhalbh a phàigheadh air ais.

Aon uair ‘s gun tig cùisean air ais chun an àbhaist, thig togail gu math luath air an eaconamaidh, ach bidh a’ bhuaidh fada is domhainn, agus ma gheibh sinn air beagan a chuideachadh a thoirt dhan ghinealach a dh’fheumas an eaconamaidh fhàs san àm ri teachd, nach e rud math a tha sin.

Ach tha seo a’ deànamh ciall aig ìre eile cuideachd, agus ‘s dòcha ìre nas cudromaiche.

Ma tha sinn idir a’dol a choileanadh na h-amais a bhith “carbon cothromach”, mar a th aca air, feumaidh sinn an dòigh-smaoineachaidh atharrachadh agus pàirt dhen sin, ‘s e bhith a’ cur ar cùlaibh ris a’ chàr agus dòighean siubhail eile a chleachdadh, mar bhusaichean le cumhachd an dealain no hydrogen. ‘S nach eil e cho math tòiseachadh leotha-san le inntinn òg is fosgailte.

Tuigidh thu cho math ‘s a tha seirbheisean bhusaichean an asgaidh gu bhith dha leithid oileanaich, no iadsan ann an sgeamaichean-treanaidh, no feadhainn anns a’ chiad obair aca agus a th’ air turastal ìosal. Tha gach sgillin luachmhor.

Ach, dè mu dheidhinn na feadhna nach eil a’ fuireach far a bheil seirbheis bhusaichean ri làimh.

Anns na sgìrean dùthchail, tha na seirbheisean air a bhith air an geàrradh air ais gu mòr agus comhairlean a’ fulang le dì-ionmhais, agus tha sin an uair sin a’ cur ri suidheachadh far a bheil crìonadh sluaigh air an òir.

Tha Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ag iarraidh sgeama an asgaidh nam busaichean a bhith air a leudachadh gu na h-aiseagan dhaibhsan a tha a’ fuireach sna h-eileanan – coltach ris an seòrsa rud a tha ann mar-thà le Sgeama nam Fàraidhean Adhair Saor, far am faigh iadsan aig a bheil còd-puist sna h-eileanan lùghdachadh air prìs nan ticeadan.

Tha a’ chomhairle ag ràdh gu bheil aiseagan dha na h-eileanaich mar sheirbheisean bus air tìr-mòr, riatanach airson gach cuid adhbharan eaconamaigeach agus sòisealta.

Tha bunait mar-thà aig an argamaid aca leis gu bheil an fheadhainn nas sine na 60 bliadhna a dh’aois anns na h-eileanan a’ faighinn nan aiseag an asgaidh agus, co-dhiù, ‘s cinnteach g’ eil argamaid làidir ann a thaobh ana-ceartas agus cothromachadh.

Thuige seo, chan eil Riaghaltas na h-Alba air sealltainn g’ eil iad idir a’ gabhail ris. Ach le bhith ag ràdh sin, nuair a thig e gu na h-eileanan agus aiseagan, tha fhios g’ eil gu leòr eile fan comhair agus an t-seirbheis an-dràsta na bhutarrais agus na mhasladh.

Fad seachdainean a-nis tha sinn air a bhith a’ faicinn aiseagan a’ fulang le trioblaidean teicnigeach agus e cho soilleir sa ghabhas – ‘s cha leig thu leas a bhith na do eòlaiche – g’eil ùrachadh a dhì agus air an lìonradh air fad.

Coma leat mu dheidhinn prìs. An-dràsta bhiodh an òigridh – no duine sam bith eile aig a sin – dìreach toilichte an cothrom fhaighinn air aiseagan nan eilean idir.

Fios bhon neach-deasachaidh:

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

While it’s been sometime in the pipeline, the Scottish government confirmed that, from January 31 next year, all under-22s will be eligible for free bus travel. It’s a move that makes sense on all sorts of levels.

This is the generation that will be most affected by the pandemic economic fall-out. As they prepare to take their first steps towards economic independence and the hope of a fulfilling career, they will no doubt find themselves facing an environment of uncertainty and hardship as the public purse begins the long process of repaying the furlough largesse.

Normality will result in a temporary economic bounce, but the effects of the past year are likely to be deep and lasting and a little bit of a helping hand for the next generation’s economically active is no bad thing.

But it makes sense, too, on another, perhaps even more important, level. If we are ever to reach the ambition of reaching “carbon zero”, it’s going to require a radical transformation in attitude, including turning towards electric or hydrogen-powered modes of travel.

Establishing the habit of using public transport will be crucial in this respect and it’s best to cultivate a change in behaviour while minds are still young.

You can well imagine that for students travelling to college or university, or for those in apprenticeships or traineeships, or for those taking their first steps into the working world with a minimum-wage job, the promise of free bus travel will be a bit of a godsend.

But what about for those who live where bus services are sporadic or even non-existent?

In rural areas, routes have been drastically cut back as cash-strapped councils can no longer afford to keep them going, with the effect of further adding to the root causes of depopulation of the periphery.

Western Isles Council has already called for the free bus travel scheme to be extended to ferries for those resident in the islands – just as is the case right now with the Air Discount Scheme, where those living in certain postcodes are able get a reduction on air fares when booking tickets.

The council have made the case that, for the islands, the ferry services are the bus equivalent on the mainland, providing a lifeline link, both for economic and social reasons.

Given that there is a precedent already in over-60s in the islands being eligible for free ferry travel, then the case for extending that special dispensation to the area’s young should surely fall into the category of “natural justice” and help redress in some way an inequality of opportunity.

The Scottish government, to date, is unbowed. But then again when it comes to the islands and ferries, they have a lot more with which they have to contend right now as the network lurches from fiasco to shambles to utter embarrassment.

For weeks now we have witnessed repeated breakdowns and technical problems across the fleet as a result of years of under-investment, exacerbated by severe restrictions on the number of people who are allowed to travel because of Covid rules that don’t seem to apply to trains or planes.

Never mind the price. Right now, the under-22s, or anyone else for that matter, would just settle for being able to get any kind of booking on a ferry.

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