From the minister
I hope that makes it clear.
As Humza says, the opposition, many of whom were against universal benefits, and wanted to do away with, for example, universal free prescriptions, are lying, haven’t bothered to find out the facts, or have and are too stupid to understand them. One of these!
No one is taking your card away. There will be a consultation about how to make it sustainable over a period. The scheme is likely to be extended in some ways to help people who need it.
The scheme, brought in by the Labour/Liberal government is admirable. It really is a generous project covering the whole of Scotland.
It encourages less-well-off older and disabled people to make journeys that would be beyond their means. It encourages them out of the house, in to the town, or to another town, to meet friends and do their own shopping. In short, it is good for their morale, health and wellbeing. On colder days it is a way of keeping warm and saving on the household heating bill. (Yes, I’ve known people who did that… HAD to do that!)
In the case of richer people, who can afford the bus fare, it encourages them to leave the car behind and use public transport, reducing congestion on the roads, pollution and overflowing parking facilities in town. Of course, that doesn’t work for everyone. You still get Lady Whatsit and her chauffeur driven Bentley taking up the road, but for most people it is an incentive to leave the car behind. That has to be a good thing.
It reduces wear and tear on the already damaged roads. And it almost undoubtedly reduces the number of accidents, a good thing on its own, but with the additional benefit of reducing pressure on the emergency services.
It ensures that buses run throughout the day, providing a better service for those who need them. Buses are no longer a real public service. They are for profit. If there is no money to be made on a route during the day, the bus company will reduce the service to the absolutely minimum required to retain the franchise for that route, making life more difficult for fare paying passengers outside of peak travel times, for getting to hospital appointments, jobcentre interviews, and shopping.
In a perfect world we would all have free, or at least reasonably priced clean, efficient and reliable public transport. We don’t live in a perfect world.
Let’s wait for the consultations before we get bent out of shape. If we have something to say, let’s contribute to these consultations and try to get the best deal for the public with limited money that can be made available.