In response to figures revealing only 17% of under 22-year-olds in Orkney have successfully applied to the Young Persons' Free Bus Travel Scheme, Orkney's MSP has reiterated his concerns about the unnecessarily complex and confusing application process.
BBC News has today revealed that two-thirds of under-22s in Scotland have not signed up for free bus travel scheme, with Orkney coming third lowest of all Scottish local authorities. In comparison, 79% have been issued with passes in Inverclyde and 37% in Shetland.
According to a Freedom of Information request by Mr McArthur, only 615 out of 3,722 under-22s in Orkney have successfully applied for a free bus travel card as of 1 May. Mr McArthur has previously raised with the Transport Secretary concerns from constituents about difficulties faced in applying to the scheme.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
"These figures are concerning, but sadly not unexpected given then needlessly complex and confusing application process. The take up rate across Scotland is poor, but in Orkney the figures are half the national average. Something has gone badly wrong.
"As constituents have rightly pointed out, forcing children as young as 5 to acquire new or replacement national entitlement cards, often leading to the need to acquire proof of age identification such as passports, has been hugely time-consuming and, in many cases, off-putting entirely.
"Local authorities are doing their best to process applications, but have been left to carry the can in the face of cuts to their budgets. All too often, once the announcement has been made by Scottish Ministers, they lose interest in the actual delivery. That’s not good enough and young people in Orkney, and across Scotland, deserve better."