Concessionary fares and free travel
As an older or disabled traveller you may be eligible for concessionary fares or free travel on public transport. If you live in some of the more remote communities in Scotland you may be able to get some help with the cost of travel. This page helps you to check if you are eligible and explains how you can claim concessionary fares for bus, rail and ferry.
There might be other concessionary travel schemes available. You can find a list of some of these schemes on The National Rail website. You should also check with your local council offices to find out if there are any other schemes in your area.
Bus and long distance coach travel in Scotland
You are eligible for a free bus pass if you are over 60. The pass is called a National Entitlement Card. You can apply to your local council for your National Entitlement Card. You may also be eligible if you are under 60 but have a disability. You are eligible on the grounds of a disability if you:
- get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
- get the higher/middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
- receive Attendance Allowance
- receive any rate of the mobility or daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
- have a blue badge
- are profoundly or severely deaf
- have been told not to drive on medical grounds
- suffer from a recognised mental illness, learning disability or personality disorder that has lasted for more than a year. You must need to travel to health or social care appointments as part of treatment activities, care or for rehabilitation. Your ability to travel must also be impaired
- are terminally ill
- have a progressive degenerative condition and you have mobility problems
- have suffered a loss of limbs
- are registered blind or partially sighted - there's information about registration on the Royal National Institute of Blind People website
- are an injured veteran with mobility problems.
Evidence to support your application for a National Entitlement Card
You can get information about what evidence you need to support your application for a National Entitlement Card from Transport Scotland at www.transport.gov.scot.
Current National Entitlement Cards
All National Entitlement Cards were replaced by the end of 2016.
Current National Entitlement Cards will not have an expiry date if issued to someone aged 60 and over. Cards issued on the grounds of a disability will continue to have an expiry date, and cardholders will need to provide current evidence when applying for a replacement card. If your card is lost, stolen or damaged you should contact your local authority to ask for a new one.
There is more information and the contact details for local authority concessionary travel departments, on the Transport Scotland website at www.transport.gov.scot.
Free bus pass for a companion
You can also get a free bus pass for a companion to travel with you if your disability means you cannot travel alone. You can apply for this at the same time as a card for yourself. Your companion pass can be used for a number of people. The Companion Card is not restricted to only one person but the companion has to be over 5 years of age. You will need proof that you are not able to travel alone. The evidence you provide may be in the award notice letter from the Department for Work and Pensions when the benefit was awarded or, for example, a copy of your blind registration certificate.
You will be eligible for a companion card if:
- you live in a care/residential home or hospital and are eligible for the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance, or
- you receive the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, or
- you receive the standard or enhanced rate of daily living component of Personal Independence Payment, or
- you receive Attendance Allowance, or
- you are registered as severely sight impaired (blind), or
- you receive war pensions constant attendance allowance.
You can get more information about companion entitlement from Transport Scotland at www.transport.gov.scot.
How to get a free bus pass and companion card
Contact your local council to find out who issues disabled bus passes in your area.
You can also get more information from Transport Scotland at www.transport.gov.scot.
How to report misuse of free bus passes
You can report misuse of free bus passes, such as passengers using passes which don't belong to them or using fraudulent cards, or bus firms giving passengers a ticket for a longer journey than they actually make so the bus firm can recoup more public money from Transport Scotland. The Transport Scotland hotline number is 0800 328 5690.
Transitional provisions for bus pass and companion card if you are not eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
If you have a free bus pass or a companion card and you are assessed for PIP but don’t qualify for it you can keep your card until it expires.
If you have a disability that makes travelling by train difficult you may be eligible to travel free under the Scottish National Blind Persons Scheme or to buy a Disabled Persons Railcard.
Disabled Persons Railcard
This railcard allows you to get 1/3 off most rail fares throughout Great Britain. If you're travelling with an adult companion they can also get 1/3 off their rail fare.
The Disabled Persons Railcard costs £20 for a one-year card, £54 for a three-year card. You are eligible for a Disabled Persons Railcard if you:
- are registered as blind or partially sighted - there's information about registration on the Royal National Institute of Blind People website
- are registered as deaf or use a hearing aid
- have epilepsy and either: have repeated attacks even though you receive drug treatment; or are currently prohibited from driving because of your epilepsy
- receive Attendance Allowance
- receive Disability Living Allowance at either: the higher rate or lower rate for getting around (mobility); or the higher or middle rate for help with personal care
- receive Personal Independence Payment - you will need a copy of your award letter
- receive Severe Disablement Allowance
- receive War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
- receive War or Service Disablement Pension for 80% or more
- are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme.
You can only buy a Disabled Persons Railcard by post. You need to download an application form and post it along with proof of your eligibility.
You can find the form on the Disabled Persons Railcard website.
Other discounted fares for disabled people who do not have a railcard
There are other concessionary discounts on fares available for registered blind and partially sighted people or wheelchair users who do not have a Disabled Persons Railcard:
- 34% off first class/standard anytime singles or returns
- 34% off first class/standard anytime day single
- 50% off first class/standard anytime day return.
Season tickets for blind or partially sighted people
If you are registered blind or partially sighted, you can buy one adult season ticket that enables a companion to travel with you on National Rail services for free. It does not have to be the same person travelling with you on every journey.
If you are travelling on your own you might qualify for free travel under the Scottish National Blind Persons Scheme.
You can find more information about eligibility and the proof you will need when buying a railcard or claiming concessionary fares on the Disabled Persons Railcard website.
If you are a resident of the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland and are eligible for the Scotland-wide free bus travel and have a National Entitlement Card you are entitled to two free return journeys to the Scottish mainland each year. If you are registered blind or partially sighted and have the eye symbol on your National Entitlement Card you may be entitled to free ferry travel under the Scottish National Blind Person Scheme. To find out if your journey is free, check with the ferry operator.
You can get more information about the routes on which you can travel free twice at www.transport.gov.scot.
Scottish National Blind Persons Scheme
This is a voluntary scheme operated by local authorities, COSLA and transport operators which offers free rail, ferry and tram travel to registered blind or partially sighted people in Scotland. To be eligible for the scheme your National Entitlement Card must have the eye symbol on it. Contact your local authority if you would like to find out more about the scheme. This scheme does not offer free or concessionary rail travel to a companion. For information about concessionary rail travel for a companion, see Disabled Persons Railcard and season tickets.
Concessionary air fares for remote communities in Scotland
If you live in Colonsay, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Islay, Jura, Caithness or North West Sutherland you may be entitled to reduced air fares on certain routes. If you are a student from one of these areas studying away from home you can also use the scheme. The Scottish Government Air Discount Scheme gives a discount of 50% on the air fare on certain routes. For more information, including how to register to use the scheme, go to www.airdiscountscheme.com.
Local concessionary schemes
You should check with your local authority if there are any special travel schemes available in your area. Some local authorities do fund special travel schemes for particular groups in the community. This would be in addition to the National Entitlement Card. For example, some local authorities in Scotland run Taxi Card schemes to enable people with severe mobility difficulties, who cannot use public transport, to be able to use taxis at a reduced rate. In some areas it is not possible to have both a National Entitlement Card and a Taxi Card.
Help with travel costs for jobseekers
You are eligible for some travel assistance if you are a jobseeker. You can get a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card from your local job centre. You need to have been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance or job hunting and claiming Universal Credit for at least three months. Your age further determines how long you need to have been claiming the relevant benefit to be eligible for the travel card:
- 3 - 9 months if you are 18-24 years old, or
- 3 - 12 months for over 25 year olds
Different travel providers may be offering different deals. Once you have your Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card check what may be on offer from the transport providers that you need to use.
From the ScotRail alliance you will be able to claim two free return tickets per month to attend interviews and, on gaining a job, a free ScotRail ticket for the first month at work. For more information go to the ScotRail Alliance website.
There are also discounts available from Stagecoach. The details are on the Stagecoach website.
If you need more help you can contact your local Citizens Advice bureau or Advice Direct Scotland's consumer service.
Advice Direct Scotland's Consumer Service
Freephone: 0808 164 6000