Analysing the impacts of discounted public transport for studentsNational Union of Students (NUS)

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executive summary

We provided essential evidence for the NUS campaign to secure a 50% discount on bus and train travel for all students in Scotland, regardless of age.


One of the NUS’s campaign goals was to secure a 50% discount on bus and train travel for all students. This was particularly important for students who were over 21 years in age – accounting for over half of all students in Scotland – and therefore ineligible for free bus travel.

The campaign was a direct response to the cost of living crisis and a request from NUS members to focus on the issue of public transport fares. To support their campaign the NUS required a research report containing key statistics and the impacts of discounted public transport. The NUS had lots of survey data from students but lacked expertise in public transport policy and pricing.


We provided evidence for the potential impacts of offering a 50% public transport discount to all students in Scotland, including:

  • impact on travel behaviour and modal shift
  • impact on student finances and the cost of living
  • cost and revenue implications
  • options for implementation of such a scheme


The NUS used our research findings in their ‘Travel Barrier’ campaign to make the case for half price bus and rail fares for all students and apprentices in Scotland.

Key arguments used by the NUS included that 311,000 students are ineligible for free bus travel whilst the cost of travel has prevented a third of young people from accessing education.


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