In a nationwide first Renfrewshire Council, Transport Scotland and McGill’s buses are using Scotland’s smart travel network to help young people between the ages of 16-25 into employment and training.
Where a young person registered with the council’s Invest in Renfrewshire programme is eligible for free travel, advisors can now load pre-paid tickets for McGill’s local bus service onto their Young Scot National Entitlement Card, which is part of the saltirecard family of smartcards.
Advisors at the council’s Youth Employability Hub in Paisley will be able to load one, seven or twenty-eight unlimited travel tickets, which eligible young people would redeem by simply tapping their Young Scot National Entitlement Card on-board a McGill’s bus.
Staff at Youth Employability Hub provide support to young people registered with Invest in Renfrewshire. Working with an Adviser tickets are provided based on an individual’s need and can be used for a wide variety of reasons. For example, bus tickets can be provided to attend interviews and training opportunities or to support young people until their first pay packet arrives.
Through offering support at a key time of transition for young people Renfrewshire Council hope to help them find a new job and continue their journey to a positive life destination.
The project is possible because of Transport Scotland’s nationwide smart card infrastructure and the National Entitlement Card which is available to all Young People aged 11-26. It is a partnership between Renfrewshire Council, McGill’s buses, Transport Scotland and Young Scot.
Transport is mentioned by young people as one of their biggest barriers to accessing opportunities. This new initiative is an example of how Scotland’s smart ticketing network can be used to provide targeted help to specific groups of young people. As all young people have the opportunity to have a Young Scot card it can be used for travel without labelling those who benefit.
Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Helping young people facing particular challenges to achieve their potential is at the heart of our approach to getting people out of poverty.
“We have made it a top priority to increase the opportunities available to people throughout our communities.
“Our ground-breaking £6 million Tackling Poverty programme makes a real difference and is leading the way in Scotland, so it is fitting that Renfrewshire Council is the first local authority in the country to be involved in this initiative.
“This is yet another innovative way to help overcome the barriers that too often stand in the way of someone finding work and achieving a better future.”
Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “This is another important step towards the delivery of Smart-enabled travel products which aims to help young people on their journey to employment and training across Renfrewshire.
“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that all journeys on Scotland’s bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be accessed using some form of smart ticketing or payment.
“We will continue to work with local authorities and bus operators to develop multi-operator schemes for all commuters across Scotland.”
Ralph Roberts, Managing Director of McGill’s, said: “McGill’s is delighted to be involved with this ground-breaking initiative. Our £1m+ investment in new ticketing machines in 2016 has allowed us to support this Smart initiative, and we look forward to working closely with Renfrewshire Council, Young Scot and Transport Scotland on future Smart ticketing projects.”
Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot said: “This is really excellent example of how the Young Scot National Entitlement Card can be used to promote equality. By helping young people find and stay in employment, this programme it will have an incredible impact during one of the most important stages in a young person’s journey.”
The project is part of Renfrewshire Council’s £6 million Tackling Poverty Action Plan to end child poverty in Renfrewshire. The smart card scheme one of several ways Renfrewshire Council’s Youth Services Team are using the Young Scot’s services to tackle inequality and improve services. This is the first in a series of smart travel initiatives happening in Renfrewshire in collaboration between Renfrewshire Council and Transport Scotland. More will be announced soon.