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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-16750: Elaine Smith (Central Scotland)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 17 May 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what travel subsidies it offers to low-income families.

Answered by: Humza Yousaf 11 June 2018

The Scottish Government spends over £250 million a year to support the bus industry, allowing operators to keep fares at affordable levels, and provide free bus travel to older and disabled passengers. We also provide support to local authorities via the block grant so that they can support necessary bus services. Local Authorities spent over £50 million on services in 2016-17. We are also seeking to introduce free bus travel for young carers in receipt of the planned Young Carer Grant (16-17 years old and up to 18 years old if still in school) and three months free bus travel for recipients of the proposed Job Grant (aged between 16 and 24 years) once these benefits come into force.

The Scottish Government also meets around two thirds of the cost of running the railway in Scotland. We regulate rail fares to help make rail more affordable for all. Annual fares increases for regulated fares are limited to the level of inflation (as measured by the Retail Price Index) or below. In addition, it is a commitment contained in the ScotRail Franchise Agreement that unemployed job seekers who are not in full-time education have the opportunity to receive up to two free Return Fares each month for travel to and from job interviews and a free monthly Season Ticket if they are successful in securing a job.

Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) ferry fares have been introduced on the west coast, bringing significantly lower fares for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches. RET has resulted in a welcome increase in passenger numbers and improved access to affordable ferry travel.

The Air Discount Scheme aims to address the issue of high air fares in the Highlands and Islands by providing a 50% discount on core air fares for residents of the eligible area on eligible routes.