Bus firms are warning that costs may have to be passed on to passengers. if the draft budget is approved bus routes may have to be axed - leaving elderly passengers without vital services.
George Mair, Scotland Director for trade body the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said:
“The draft budget figure for concessionary travel appears markedly below the current projected cost of the scheme for next year.Reports are circulating that the SNP are planning to raise the free bus pass age from 60 to 65, out of line with areas in England. It is believed that current bus pass holders will not be affected.
“If this proves to be the case, bus operators will have no choice but to cut services or pass on the cost to fare-paying passengers.
“CPT hopes to meet with Transport Scotland this week for clarity on the Government’s position.”
A public consultation about raising the minimum age to quality for a free buss pass has now been put off until after May's council elections.
Neil Bibby, Labour’s transport spokesperson, said:
“The SNP should come clean about these plans now – keeping older people in the dark about the future of the bus pass would be an insult.
“The free bus pass was introduced by the last Labour-led Scottish Government and it is a lifeline for many older people. If the SNP are planning changes to it, then they should say so before the elections in May.”