PIECES of good news can be like buses – you wait for ages then two come along at once!

Well, in this column, I'm pleased to be able to bring you not just two bits of good news, but two bits of good news about buses.

The first piece of good news came in a reply I received from FirstBus after I wrote to them expressing my concern about changes to the January timetable to the 52 service.

Not only have they confirmed to me that they have now ensured that service will operate 10 minutes earlier throughout to allow connections at Stirling onto other services and that a new journey will be added to improve journey opportunities along the route for key workers and students but they have also assured me that their aim is to return bus services back to normal pre-Christmas levels by January 24th.

My office can provide more details of these changes.

The one exception to that return to normal is the X53 but, even there, there is a new service – the 202, operated by Bay Travel – which will cover much of the route as far as Tillicoultry where connections can be made to the 52.

The second piece of bus-related good news is that from the end of this month, thanks to the Scottish Government, free bus travel will be available to everyone aged under 22, delivering on a promise made in our election manifesto.

All that any young person has to do to access this fantastic opportunity is apply for a new or replacement National Entitlement or Young Scot card.

Children under 5 years old do not need a card as they already travel for free on commercial bus services, a parent or guardian must apply on behalf of 5–15 year olds and provide approval for them to travel for free by bus and, if you are aged 16-21, you must apply for a new NEC yourself. You can apply online at GETYOURNEC.SCOT.

If you cannot apply online, there are many other ways to apply, just get in touch with the local council, indeed many schools are coordinating applications on behalf of their pupils and may already have contacted parents or guardians and pupils directly if this arrangement is in place.

Once the card is sorted you will just need to present your card to the driver whenever you hop on the bus.

Making bus travel free for under 22s is not only important taking pressure off young people's finances and improve their access to education, leisure, and work, it will also help tackle the climate emergency.

l also hope that an additional benefit will be that bus services will see increased passenger numbers, helping them to remain viable and available for the rest of us to use.

This is a real-life, practical example of your SNP Scottish Government once again making an investment in our young people's future, supporting them to have the best possible start in life and creating the fairer, greener Scotland that we want to build.