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Labour councillors urge schools to help children and young people get bus passes

By Lewis McBlane

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MORAY Councillors have encouraged schools to help young people apply for free bus passes.

Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No.038854. BUS SERVICE 35 PASSES THREAPLANDS.
Picture: Eric Cormack. Image No.038854. BUS SERVICE 35 PASSES THREAPLANDS.

Labour Councillors Sandy Keith and Ben Williams have asked schools to take a more active role in promoting the scheme, which lets people under 22 claim a free bus pass.

The councillors raised the issue at last Wednesday's (June 8) meeting of the Education, Children's and Leisure Service Committee.

Cllr Keith said: “Only 26% of Moray’s young people have been issued with a free bus pass under the Young Persons’ Travel Scheme, well below the national average, and significantly below the leading local authority, Inverclyde, where uptake is an impressive 79%.

"In Inverclyde, they took the initiative to go into schools and encourage pupils to apply.

"Are there any plans afoot to follow Inverclyde’s example here in Moray, and use schools to encourage uptake?”

With growing costs of living and summer holidays looming, Labour have said improving the uptake of free bus passes could make a big difference to quality of life.

Council officers present assured Cllr Keith that the Council was working to improve uptake in schools, in particular by empowering teachers.

Councillor Derek Ross responded by raising concerns about poor services in rural areas, which may limit the utility of the free passes, but Councillor Keith added that “where such services do exist we should be encouraging uptake wherever we can.”

Cllr Keith's calls were backed by fellow Labour Councillor Ben Williams.

Cllr Williams said: “It’s obviously important that people are getting what they’re entitled to, but living in a rural area myself I know it’s also important that we demonstrate the demand for better public transport in Moray.

"Bus companies have repeatedly cut services because of a purported ‘lack of demand’ – so if young people can demonstrate that the demand is there, we can make the case for better services.”

Councillor Keith urges all Moray residents under the age of 22 to apply for their free bus pass at freebus.scot.

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