Around 14,000 young people in West Lothian have taken up the Scottish Government’s national free bus travel scheme since its launch in January, as parents hit out at problems making an application.
The scheme was introduced at the end of January, and allows Scots under the age of 22 to claim a free bus pass through the Young Scot card.
Applying for the Young Scot travel card has been far from straightforward however, with teenagers and parents often describing a frustrating foray into frozen pages and dropped links on the government website.
This has caused an additional problem in West Lothian, where teens need a Young Scot card for ID to use school transport.
Parents can usually get help through schools. Through the holidays they can contact the council CIS offices for assistance.
Councillor Kirsteen Sullivan is one parent who experienced problems trying to secure a Young Scot card.
She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I completely understand the frustrations of many parents in trying to apply online for their child’s free bus travel. After more than a dozen failed attempts I was finally successful so here’s hoping that the glitches have now been ironed out.
“It appears that the implementation of the system wasn’t as thought through as it could have been, whether in anticipating the volume of applications or indeed the roll out process itself.
“Once again councils have had to step into the breach and provide support. I’m aware that schools were assisting with the application process during term-time and now parents can contact their local CIS office for assistance if they are continuing to experience problems with the online system.”
A council spokesperson stressed that West Lothian’s school transport programme was separate from the Young Scot free travel card, and added: “Since the launch of the free travel product just short of 14,000 Young Scot cards have been issued in West Lothian.
“If you are five to 21 years old and live in Scotland then you are eligible for free public bus travel, no matter your nationality. Further information on the scheme can be found on the West Lothian Council website (https://www.westlothian.gov.uk/young-scot-card-with-travel).
Applications must be completed online via the Young Scot website (https://getyournec.scot/nec/pages/content/young-persons-free-bus-travel).”
They added: “The Scottish Government’s Young Persons Free Bus Travel Scheme is a separate product for public transport and is not connected to West Lothian Council’s smart ticketing product. West Lothian dedicated school transport routes are not part of the public transport network and have different eligibility.”
It came as the original deadline for parents wishing to register for school transport passed on June 17 – but the council’s Public Transport team reopened the application window this week to give another opportunity to those who may have missed it.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We expect to have emails distributed with a decision on school transport applications in the week commencing August 1.
“If for any reason you are unable to complete an application online, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01506 282320 for assistance. The online form can be found on the School Transport section of the West Lothian Council website.”
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