Free ferry fares

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The call being made this week for free bus travel for the under-22s to be extended on to the ferries is an important one.

Young people living on Arran should not have to suffer having to pay for their own transport any time they want to go to the mainland, when restrictions are lifted, while their counterparts on the mainland can jump on a bus for free any time they like.

It is often said by islanders that the ferry is like catching the bus for us – we have no choice and young people should not be penalised because of where they live.

It is good that the Scottish Government has extended the concessionary travel scheme from the under-19s to include the under-22s, as many youngsters at that age are still in full-time education, or early in their careers where they may not earn much.

There is no doubt that the lure of the mainland is strong for the young, but if there is anything we can do to make more youngsters stay on the island then that is what we should be doing.

Giving them free fares on the ferry would seems one way of helping and would be a drop in the ocean in terms of funding – given what the free bus travel scheme must cost nationally for both the young and old.

Maybe there is even argument for extended the free ferry travel scheme for the over-60s as well.