SNP ministers have been urged not to narrow the criteria for free bus passes to save cash.

A public consultation on the £200m concessionary bus travel scheme, which is open to 1m Scots who are disabled or over-60, is due to be launched this year.

Costs have risen by a third since it was introduced in 2006, with around 200,000 people aged between 60 and 65 eligible, many still in work.

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The Scottish Government has indicated current users will be unaffected by any changes, however there is speculation the qualifying age could be raised for future users.

This year’s budget for the bus scheme has been cut by around £10m.

Publishing a plan to protect bus and ferry services today, Scottish Labour said it wanted a raft of not-for-profit municipal bus companies such as Lothian Buses; bus routes critical to local communities protected; and CalMac ferries kept in public hands.

Transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “The free bus pass was delivered by Labour in government and we will protect it.

“But the SNP Government has cut the bus pass budget by £10m, and there is still no commitment from ministers to keep the age eligibility level at 60.

“The SNP has absolutely no mandate to make cuts to the bus pass, and any decision to do so would breach the trust of voters.”

A spokesperson for SNP Transport minister Humza Yousaf said: “Labour are simply playing catch-up as most of what they suggest we have already committed to.

“The SNP Government is firmly committed to maintaining free bus travel for older and disabled people - and we are now considering the introduction of free bus travel for modern apprentices.

“But this follows Labour’s bogus claims about rail performance, which have now been exposed and which they should apologise for.”