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Concessionary Travel - Customer Feedback Research (Years One and Two)

United Kingdom
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STRIA Roadmaps
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport mode
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Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

The Scotland-Wide Free Bus Travel Scheme for Older and Disabled People was introduced in April 2006. The scheme operates nationally, permitting free bus travel on any registered bus service. The scheme is open to anyone who lives in Scotland and who is either 60 years old or more, or who meets certain disability criteria and has applied for, and received a National Entitlement Card (NEC).

The Scottish Government has been exploring how the scheme can be improved and developed since 2009. A review of the scheme in 2009 undertook a postal survey and qualitative research with its users. This revealed that the scheme was highly valued, particularly for local travel and reduced a sense of isolation in older people. It has also explored issues around setting the reimbursement rate for transport operators involved in the scheme.

There is, however, very little evidence about how older and disabled people use their National Entitlement Card to access concessionary travel. Transport Scotland commissioned Research Resource and ODS Consulting to undertake research to explore how people in Scotland use their National Entitlement Card and to assess their experiences of concessionary travel


The specific objectives were to provide evidence in relation to:

  • the application process;
  • experience of using the card to access the National Concessionary travel scheme and general experience of eligible cardholders who use their entitlement to free travel;
  • transport behaviours and patterns;
  • the perceived benefits and impact of the scheme; and
  • overall satisfaction with the concessionary travel scheme.


Funding Source
Transport Scotland


Satisfaction was extremely high with regards to the Scotland-wide Free Bus Travel for Older and Disabled People Scheme with almost all survey respondents being very or fairly satisfied with the scheme overall. Satisfaction levels have remained similar to 2013 with 98% stating that they were either very or fairly satisfied with the scheme overall. Whilst the main channels that raised awareness of the NEC product were informal, mainly through word of mouth, respondents found it easy to obtain the information they needed on the concessionary travel scheme.

The research identified that most people (91% of respondents) used their concessionary travel card for free bus travel, a marginal increase from 86% who reported using their card to travel by bus in 2012. This was substantiated in the focus group findings where most people used their card for bus travel and this included local buses as well as intercity buses and national buses. Notably, there was a significantly higher level of usage in urban areas compared to those living in rural areas.

The NEC was also used by 38% (37% in 2012) of respondents for things other than free bus travel. The most commonly cited other use was for train travel followed by identification.

The most common types of journeys cardholders used the card for were, as was the case in 2013, shopping followed by leisure. These findings were supported by the focus groups.

Respondents reported using their card frequently with almost two thirds (65%) saying that they use their card at least once per week with almost half (44%) using their card four or more times per week.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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