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Concessionary fares and free travel

This advice applies to Scotland

As an older or disabled traveller you might be eligible for concessionary fares or free travel on public transport. If you live in a more remote community in Scotland you might be able to get some help with the cost of travel. You can check if you're eligible and how to 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 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're aged 60 or over. You might also be eligible if you're under 60 and have a disability.

The pass is called a National Entitlement Card. You need to apply to your local council to get your card. Find contact details for your council on the Transport Scotland website

You will be eligible on the grounds of disability if you:

  • get the higher rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance
  • get the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • get the higher rate of the mobility component of Child Disability Payment or Short-term Assistance to challenge a decision about that
  • get the highest or middle rate of the care component of Child Disability Payment or Short-term Assistance to challenge a decision about that
  • get Attendance Allowance
  • get 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 or you would be refused a driving licence, for example because you wouldn't meet the eyesight standard
  • have a recognised mental health condition or learning disability 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 an injured veteran with mobility problems
  • are aged 16 or over and registered blind or partially sighted - there's information about registration on the Royal National Institute of Blind People website
  • are under 16 and have a diagnosis of severe sight impairment that's been confirmed by an optician or doctor. 

Evidence to support your application for a National Entitlement Card

You can find out what evidence you need to apply for a National Entitlement Card on the Transport Scotland website.

Replacing your National Entitlement Card

If your National Entitlement Card was issued because you're aged 60 or over, it won't have an expiry date.

If your card was issued because you're disabled it will have an expiry date. You'll need to provide current evidence when you apply for a replacement card.

If your card is lost, stolen or damaged you should contact your local council to ask for a new one.

There is more information and the contact details for local council concessionary travel departments on the Transport Scotland website.

Where you can use your bus pass  

Your National Entitlement Card is your bus pass. It gives you the same rights as a full-fare paying passenger.

You can use it to travel in Scotland on almost all local and long distance bus services. You can use it for as many journeys as you want.

You cannot use your bus pass on some services, such as premium-fare night buses and city sightseeing buses. 

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 doesn't have to be the same person every time you travel, but they have to be over 5 years of age.

You'll need proof that you're not able to travel alone like your benefit award letter or a copy of your blind registration certificate.

You will be eligible for a companion card if you:

  • live in a care home, residential home or hospital and you're eligible for the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance, or Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance
  • get the higher or middle rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance
  • get the highest or middle rate of the care component of Child Disability Payment or Short-term Assistance to challenge a decision about that
  • get the standard or enhanced rate of daily living component of Personal Independence Payment
  • get Attendance Allowance
  • get war pensions constant attendance allowance
  • are registered as severely sight impaired (blind)
  • are under 16 and have a diagnosis of severe sight impairment that's been confirmed by an optician or doctor. 

You can get more information about travelling with a companion on the Transport Scotland website.

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 get contact details for your council from the Transport Scotland website.

Bus pass and companion card if you're not eligible for Personal Independence Payment 

If you have a free bus pass or a companion card and you are assessed for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) but don’t qualify for it, you can keep your card until it expires.

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.

You can call Transport Scotland free on 0800 328 5690, or email concessionarytravel@transport.gov.scot.

Rail travel

If you have a disability that makes travelling by train difficult you might 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 1-year card, £54 for a 3-year card.

You can get 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
  • get Attendance Allowance
  • get 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
  • get Personal Independence Payment - you'll need a copy of your award letter
  • get Severe Disablement Allowance
  • get War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement
  • get War or Service Disablement Pension for 80% or more
  • are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme.

You can find out how to apply on the Disabled Persons Railcard website.

If you're disabled but don't 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, or standard anytime singles or returns
  • 34% off first class, or standard anytime day single
  • 50% off first class, or standard anytime day return.

Season tickets for blind or partially sighted people

If you are registered blind or partially sighted, you can buy 1 adult season ticket that lets a companion 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're 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.

Ferry travel

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 can get 2 free return journeys to the Scottish mainland each year. If you're registered blind or partially sighted and have the eye symbol on your National Entitlement Card you might 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 on the Transport Scotland website.

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 council 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.

Air Discount Scheme for Highlands and Islands

If you live in Colonsay, Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles, Islay, Jura, Caithness or North West Sutherland you might be entitled to reduced air fares on certain routes.

If you're 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. Find more information, including how to register to use the scheme, on the Air Discount Scheme website.

Local concessionary schemes

You should check with your local council if there are any special travel schemes available in your area. Some local councils fund special travel schemes for particular groups in the community. This would be in addition to the National Entitlement Card. For example, some local councils in Scotland run Taxi Card schemes for people with severe mobility difficulties, who cannot use public transport, to be able to use taxis at a reduced rate.

In some areas you can't have both a National Entitlement Card and a Taxi Card.

Help with travel costs for jobseekers

You can get some help with travel costs if you're 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 3 months. Your age further determines how long you need to have been claiming the relevant benefit to be eligible for the travel card:

  • 3 to 9 months if you are 18 to 24 years old, or
  • 3 to 12 months for over 25 year olds.

Different travel providers might be offering different deals. Once you have your Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card, check what might be on offer from the transport providers that you need to use.

From ScotRail, you can claim 2 free return tickets per month to attend interviews. Once you have a job, you can get a free ScotRail ticket for the first month at work. For more information go to the ScotRail website.

There are also discounts available from Stagecoach. The details are on the Stagecoach website.

Next steps

You can find out more about access rights when travelling by bus.

If you need more help you can contact your local Citizens Advice bureau

Other useful information

You can find out about the blue badge scheme.

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