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Just half of young people in Aberdeenshire who are eligible for free bus travel have been issued with a pass – more than a year since the Scottish Government initiative launched.
Anyone aged under 22 is able to register for a card that allows unlimited travel on bus routes across Scotland.
The SNP’s flagship free bus travel scheme cost the public purse more than £102 million between January 31, 2022 and February 3, 2023.
And now latest figures show just 27,427 cards (53 per cent) have been issued in Aberdeenshire up to December 31 despite 51,400 young people being eligible for the scheme.
In Aberdeen, 24,772 (66 per cent) have been given a travel card while in Moray 7927 have been issued.
Scottish Conservative shadow transport secretary and north-east MSP Liam Kerr said the take-up figures for the region and the rest of the country were “underwhelming”.
He called on more to be done, particularly in schools, to help people with the “unnecessarily complex” application process.
Mr Kerr said: “More than a year on from its launch, young people are still being put off from applying because of the complicated application process.
“I have been contacted by constituents who have said it has taken them hours to complete the unnecessarily complex application form.
“This is completely unacceptable for a scheme which has had more than £100 million of taxpayers money pumped into it.
“Not only that, young people living in rural areas are finding the pass isn’t worthwhile because their bus services have been cut.
“These figures for the north-east are underwhelming and show the SNP-Green Government hasn’t put enough focus into our schools on improving the uptake of this costly scheme.”