NICOLA Sturgeon has refused to give a guarantee that the free bus pass will be available to all over 60s following a review.

The Scottish Government is currently looking at the provision of concessionary bus travel, which is available to everyone over 60 and other groups including disabled people.

Ms Sturgeon said the bus pass had to be sustainable and said everyone who currently has one will keep it - but she refused to say if the current age eligibility criteria will remain the same.

The First Minister was asked by Labour MSP and leadership contender Richard Leonard about the government’s plans for the free bus pass.

He asked if she would give a commitment that eligibility criteria would not change within this parliament, which lasts until 2021.

Ms Sturgeon said no decisions will be made until the consultation is complete and that the government was “asking people across Scotland for their views on how best to ensure that the bus pass is sustainable for the long term”.

She added: “Whatever the outcome, nobody’s bus pass will be taken away from them and, indeed, some people who do not currently qualify for a bus pass will do so in the future.”

Other groups like apprentices are being considered for free travel.

Mr Leonard pressed the First Minister on specific criteria on age, introducing charges and means testing.

He asked: “Will the First Minister confirm today that there will be no raising of the qualifying age, no administrative charges implemented, no one-off payment required, no means testing and no other barrier introduced that will prevent all those aged 60 and over from accessing the scheme?”

The First Minister didn’t take the opportunity to state the age at which people qualify for the bus pass would remain the same in the future.

She said: “It is because we value the bus pass scheme and want to see it continue to benefit people right across Scotland that we are having the consultation to make sure that it is sustainable for the long term and that people long into the future can continue to enjoy the benefits of it.”

The consultation on concessionary travel runs until Novemebnt17 this year.

People can contribute through the Transport Scotland website