For the majority of people traveling in the UK they use public transport is anything but free.
Whether you’re in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, most adults will have to shell out a few pounds for bus tickets or pay a higher fee for monthly passes or trains tickets.
However, some people can travel for free – by bus or, in some rare cases, even by train – depending on where they live, their age and whether or not they have a disability.
Free travel could be of great help, especially given the current cost of living Crisis.
So if you’re wondering if you might be entitled to it free public transport where you are, we’ve got all the information together – and where to go to find out more or to apply.
Let’s take a look…
Who can travel for free on public transport in the UK?
Here’s a breakdown of some of those eligible for free UK travel.
Free travel for under 18s, over 60s and people with disabilities in London
We start with London… and its network of subways, suburban trains, DLR trains, trams and buses.
Firstly, children under the age of 5 travel free on buses, the Tube and other Transport for London (TfL) services mentioned when traveling with a fare-paying adult.
Children up to the age of 17 also travel for free, children aged 5 to 10 also travel for free on the subway, DLR, buses, trams, etc ZIP Oyster Photocard.
Over 60s living in London can travel with an for free Oyster Photocardwhile anyone over the age of 66 (state pension age in England) or with a disability living in London can travel for free freedom pass.
Finally, veterans may be entitled to free travel in London with the Veteran’s Oyster Photocard.
Check the TfL website for any regulationslike services and times, accepts your photo card or freedom pass.
Free bus travel for over 66s in England
When you reach legal retirement age in England (currently 66) you can get it free bus ride.
You must submit the application to your municipality. First enter your zip code gov.uk.
Free bus travel for children under 5 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
In both England and Scotland, children under the age of 5 generally travel for free on buses.
In England this can vary depending on the bus company – and may only apply if the child is accompanied by a paying adult. It can also apply to local subway or tram rides.
For example, we noticed that the Metro in Newcastle-upon-Tyne allows this Up to three children under the age of 11 travel freeif the accompanying adult has paid for a ticket.
It is best to check the guidelines on your local public transport provider’s website.
In scotland, all children under 5 years are free on buses.
In Northern Ireland, under-5s seem to get free travel on some Translink buses (as far as we can tell) – though can be included in the price of family tickets as “part of a party”.. It is worth checking directly.
Free bus travel for under 22s in Scotland
The Young Persons Free Bus Travel Scheme in Scotland is really good news for people aged 21 and under.
Under 22s can now apply for a passport to grant them free travel on buses, even beyond their immediate vicinity.
On gov.scotstates: “The scheme gives you free travel on any bus in any part of Scotland on registered bus services.
“Your card allows you to travel on buses outside of your place of residence. Only a few routes, such as night buses at a premium rate and city sightseeing buses, do not accept the card.”
Free bus travel for over 60s in Scotland
Anyone aged 60+ in Scotland can also apply for free coach travel by visiting the gov.scot website.
Dubbed the National Entitlement Card, the pass is designed to help people get around, but can also help with travel to more distant areas within Scotland.
Free bus and train travel for children under 11 in Wales
Corresponding Transportation for WalesChildren under the age of 11 travel free on buses and trains when accompanied by an adult ticket holder.
Under 16s can also travel for free outside of peak hours.
Free bus travel (and some trains) in Wales for over 60s
Anyone over 60 can apply for a bus pass that allows free travel in Wales, called a Concessionary Travel Pass.
As in England you can apply through your local authority which you can find by entering your postcode on gov.uk.
This Concessionary Travel Pass also allows for some free rail travel including on routes from Wrexham to Hawarden Bridge, Shrewsbury to Swansea or Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
However, some routes are subject to conditions – for example, only being able to drive free of charge from October to March. You still have to buy a ticket even if you don’t pay.
There is more information on Transport for Wales website.
Free bus travel for over 60s in Northern Ireland
People aged 60 and over in Northern Ireland can travel for free on the country’s Translink services on buses.
You can read the fine print on the and start your application NI Direct government website.
Free bus, train and LUAS tram travel for the over 65s anywhere in Ireland
Elderly people in Northern Ireland may also be able to travel throughout the Emerald Isle for free.
The All Ireland Free Travel Scheme allows free bus and train travel in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – including Dublin’s LUAS trams (with some exceptions of course).
To qualify you must be a resident of Northern Ireland and aged 65 or over or a resident of the Republic of Ireland and aged 66 or over. Maybe there are a few other people who can qualify as well.
Free bus travel for people with disabilities across the UK
People with a disability across the UK are (mostly) entitled to free travel on public transport, mainly buses.
In England you can apply for a bus pass through your local council’s website, which you can reach by visiting gov.uk.
In Northern Ireland, people who are registered as blind or are war-disabled pensioners are entitled to free bus travel.
People with learning disabilities, who are visually impaired, unable to drive for medical reasons, or who receive the mobility portion of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) can travel at half price.
Inform and apply for the relevant SmartPass via IS direct.
Finally, although not free, it’s worth knowing about Rail ticket for the disabledwhich can save you up to 1/3 off train fares in the UK (because every little bit helps with train fares…)
Free school transport for some children across the UK
Last but not least, some UK children can travel to and from school for free.
Whether or not you are eligible depends on a number of factors, such as your child’s age and how close it is to school – and whether the nearest school is a few miles from your child.
Children who do not have a safe route home or who have special educational needs may also qualify.
One last note
The above is a guide to what type of free public transport is available in the UK, but does not cover every single operator.
Things may change over time, there may be free travel regulations or things may differ slightly depending on who is providing public transport in your area.
Always check the website and read the T&Cs when applying for tickets.
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