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The Scottish Government’s new free bus passes for young people under the age of 22 has been vaunted by local SNP MPs and MSPs, but Argyll mums are giving up applying for their youngsters, blaming ‘unbelievably tedious and frustrating hoops’.
Following the First Minister’s announcement that all under-22s in Scotland could apply for free bus travel from January 31, the news was welcomed by all political parties and they encouraged young people in their constituencies to apply.
From that day young people aged five to 21 years old were able apply for their new or replacement National Entitlement Card (NEC) or Young Scot NEC to access the scheme.
However, parents are now complaining of the difficulties in applying for the card.
One computer savvy mum from North Connel, helping her daughter apply, cursed ‘unbelievably tedious and frustrating hoops’.
‘It is such a hassle to apply for it that I can’t help wondering if people will be put off,’ she said.
‘I spent nearly three hours trying to get the card for my teenage daughter; registering for myscotgov.org, finding all the relevant paperwork – including birth certificate – only to find I needed a camera on my computer, which I don’t have.
‘I then tried to use my phone but the website refused to recognise the original YoungScot card number. Three times. I gave up after that. Maybe that’s what they want? Would save the government money…’
More mums agreed. ‘Bl**dy system was a nightmare,’ said one in a Facebook mums’ group: ‘I was in and out the system for days. I eventually got it done.’
‘Spent ages trying to do it online then just gave up,’ wrote a third.
‘It was definitely a faff as I was completing the application on a laptop and had to scan documents using my phone,’ added a fourth. ‘It would be helpful if it told you at the start what documents you needed depending on age,’ said a fifth.
‘Patience and time needed,’ advised a sixth.
A lady also complained on Argyll & Bute Council Facebook post sharing the scheme: ‘Folk having nothing but issues trying to get this. It keeps telling the majority of us our number is wrong or the process has failed.’
Others, however, reported no problems.
Transport Scotland said: ‘For those who don’t have the required proofs to apply online, applications can be made direct with individual local authorities which allows for a much wider range of proofs to be used and, in some local council areas, schools are coordinating applications on behalf of their pupils.’