Funding for concessionary travel facing £10 million cuts

Funding for concessionary travel for older people will be cut by almost £10 million next year, analysis of the SNP's budget has shown.

Bus travel is free for old folk. Picture: Jane Barlow
Bus travel is free for old folk. Picture: Jane Barlow

Labour yesterday claimed the cut will raise concerns that vital bus routes that older people depend on will be cut and that bus fares will rise.

Scottish Labour Transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “This budget is unravelling. Not only has [Transport Minister] Humza Yousaf failed to deliver a fare freeze for all rail passengers, we now learn that he’s planning to raid the budget for concessionary bus travel for older people.

“Older people are getting a raw deal from the SNP’s budget. Elderly people in Scotland will already lose out from the SNP’s £327m cuts to local services like social care, but now it’s clear that things will be even worse.

“Concessionary travel for older people was a proud achievement of the last Labour-led government, but now the SNP is slashing funding to support this.

“People will rightly be concerned that lifeline bus routes, particularly those in rural areas, will now be at risk and that working-age passengers will face higher fares.

“It would be wrong for bus passengers to pay the price after Humza Yousaf finally managed to find money to support rail passengers following months of inaction.

“Whether it’s cuts to social care, fuel poverty schemes or concessionary travel, it’s clear the SNP’s cuts will be damaging for Scotland’s older people.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “Free travel through the National Entitlement Card will continue exactly as it does at present on local or Scottish long-distance buses for Scotland’s older people and disabled people. The budget line reflects that fares and journey numbers have risen by less than expected in the last two years.”