The campaign for free bus travel in Scotland for people seeking asylum is a step closer to becoming reality.

Maryhill Integration Network and the Voices Network have led the powerful campaign for the change, which would make a huge difference to lives of people experiencing the asylum system.

People seeking asylum who are in institutional accommodation have only £1.30 a day to live on. A day pass for a Glasgow bus is now £5. Allowing people to travel for free means they would no longer have to make impossible decisions between buying food for themselves and their families, and travelling to health or legal appointments.

The change could benefit 5,000 people currently living in Scotland, and help them to become part of their communities as it will make ESOL classes, volunteer opportunities and social events more accessible.

Pinar Aksu, human rights and advocacy co-ordinator at Maryhill Integration Network, said: “We know that currently the immigration system in its form is extremely difficult, however in Scotland we are creating pathways to show we can make positive changes. Having free bus travel will allow people to freely travel, meet friends, attend groups, appointments and more. It will create some form of freedom in a system where movement is restricted. This campaign was led and achieved collectively, a huge well done to everyone at MIN Voices group, the Voices Network and especially to MSP Paul Sweeney, and to all partners.”

Rania Mohamed, an adviser at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “Providing free bus travel for destitute asylum seekers, who are not permitted to work and have no recourse to public funds, offers hope in several ways. The freedom to travel without worrying about the cost helps alleviate isolation. It enables easier access to essential services, such as shopping in places that might be cheaper but farther away, attending medical and legal appointments, and exploring volunteering and other opportunities. Additionally, it fosters a sense of community inclusion and contributes to overall well-being.”

The Scottish Government has set aside £2 million from the 2024-5 budget to make this happen next year. We are seeking more information and clarity about how and when the government will implement the change.

Find out more about our work supporting people seeking protection.

Gilly Furmage
Author: Gilly Furmage