61% of young people say public transport central to combatting climate emergency.

All under 22s resident in Scotland will have access to free bus travel from 31 January 2022, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed, implementing a commitment agreed with the Scottish Green Party.

New research commissioned by Transport Scotland shows that almost two-thirds (61%) of young Scots agree that access to public transport will play a central role in the fight against climate change.

School pupils, students and social media influencers joined the First Minister and Mr Harvie at Glasgow Caledonian University to mark COP26’s Youth and Empowerment Day on board a new, Scottish-built electric bus as she confirmed the scheme.

The change means around 930,000 young people across Scotland will benefit from free bus travel from 31 January 2022.

Transport Scotland research showed 70% of young people indicate they would use public transport more frequently if it was free.

The Scottish Government has committed to removing the majority of fossil fuelled buses from public transport by 2023.

A Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce has been convened which brings bus operators, the supply chain, energy companies and financiers together to co-design a pathway to a fully zero-emission bus fleet.

Transport Scotland has made £50 million available to the Scottish Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund, to further support the Scottish bus fleet to transition to zero emission.

South Scotland SNP MSP, Emma Harper, said;

“I welcome that the Scottish Government are committed to giving our young people the very best chances to succeed in life. The extension of free bus travel to all under 22s will improve access to education, leisure, and work, while supporting the adoption of sustainable travel behaviours early in their lives.

“COP26 must be a turning point for the world, and action must be taken if we are to ‘keep 1.5 alive’, and Governments across the world must act to support this. Adopting more sustainable travel behaviour is vital if we are to reach our world-leading goal of reducing the number of kilometres travelled by car by 20% by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2045.”


Free travel for residents of Scotland aged 5-21 will be accessed by the National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC from 31 January 2022. Information on the application process for existing cardholders and new users will be available on the Transport Scotland website in due course. Children aged 0-4 already travel for free on commercial bus services.

The scheme will be delivered by the Scottish Government in partnership with the Improvement Service, National Entitlement Card Programme Office, Young Scot, local authorities and bus operators to help Scotland reach its net zero targets by 2045.

£50.7 million was awarded in 2020 to support 272 new zero emission buses and associated infrastructure through the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme, with 207 of those currently being manufactured in Scotland, supporting green jobs.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Censuswide. Total sample size was 501 Scottish young people aged 5-21. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 – 5 October 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

When surveyed on their reliance on public transport, half (50%) said they use bus services to visit friends, with two in five (38%) travelling on public transport to see family members. A third (31%) use public transport to access school, college, or university. One in four (23%) journey to work and one in five (21%) take public transport to sport or exercise facilities.

For further information please contact Izzy Stiven at Stripe Communications on 07947 350844 or

Scottish Government press contact: Jack Matthews // // 07468 755980