A FIFE MSP has hailed the "life changing" impact of the free bus travel for young people.

The praise from Greens MSP Mark Ruskell comes amid claims that the initiative has seen a rise in anti-social behaviour at locations such as Dunfermline Bus Station.

Figures from the Scottish Government have revealed that 57,821 young people in the Kingdom are benefitting from the scheme, allowing them to travel anywhere in Scotland.

Over 137 million free bus journeys have been taken across the country, allowing young people to travel for work or education, or simply to visit friends and family.

"The free bus travel scheme for under 22s has been transformative, and in some cases life-changing, for young people in Fife," said Mr Ruskell.

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"Allowing young people to access school, work or leisure for free is helping to support them and their families through a Tory cost-of-living crisis which has hit everyone in Scotland.

"The scheme has opened up huge opportunities for young people across our communities, creating exciting new chapters and helping them to explore the country and develop crucial skills for the future.

"Transport is Scotland's largest source of carbon emissions. Encouraging people to use public transport rather than take the car is a huge boost for our environment and will reduce the number of cars on our roads.

"57,821 young people in Fife have already signed-up for their free pass, and I urge all those who have not yet registered to do so today at Freebus.scot.”

The free travel scheme has brought with it critics with some blaming it for an increase in bad behaviour from young people.

Dunfermline Press: Dunfermline Bus StationDunfermline Bus Station (Image: Newsquest)

After witnessing a disturbance at Dunfermline Bus Station earlier this month, Councillor Gordon Pryde was aware of the claims.

"Most of them are not involved in these kind of issues but they are unintentional consequences of the free bus passes," he said. "If they are under 22, they all have their free bus travel and I can see comments around social media saying we need to do something.

"Dunfermline is a city. It is the biggest place in the area and all the buses go to Dunfermline so they are coming in from Cowdenbeath, Lochgelly, the West Fife villages.

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"They get to the bus station then there is nothing for them to do so a lot of them hang about the bus station. It might be kids hanging about and there are serious incidents that are dealt with.

"There needs to be more consideration about what is available to them."

Last year, Fife Council leader David Ross said there was no "easy answer" on how to stop youngsters using their free bus pass to travel to other parts of the Kingdom to cause trouble and start fights.

When asked how the local authority could prevent the problems from escalating, Cllr Ross said Police Scotland and the bus companies were doing what they can but admitted he didn't have a "magic bullet".