Transform Scotland’s Communications Officer, Rachel McFarlane, reports on a selection of our recent campaigns activities.
Moving the Vote
We have now successfully held all five ‘Moving the Vote: Transport Conversations with the parties’ events. A recording of each can be found on our website.
Since our last newsletter, we welcomed Sarah Boyack MSP from Scottish Labour, Mark Ruskell MSP from the Scottish Greens, and Michael Matheson MSP from the SNP.
Sarah Boyack MSP, Scottish Labour’s Spokesperson on Environment, Climate Change, and Land Reform (and the first person to hold the Transport Minister position in the Scottish Government from 1999-2001) joined us on Friday 26 March.
It was great to have Sarah with us to discuss her party’s proposed transport policies prior to the upcoming May election. We welcomed her party’s positioning of transport as key to the economic, social and health recovery of Scotland as lockdown restrictions ease, and the importance she placed on “locking-in the positive behavioural change” that we have seen in the past year through the lockdowns. However, the audience raised concerns that the proposed methods of doing this were too ‘carrot’-orientated and that ‘stick’ policies (e.g. Workplace Parking Levy schemes) are also essential to “lock-in” behaviour change.
Mark Ruskell MSP, the Scottish Green Party’s Spokesperson on Environment, Energy, Climate, and Agriculture joined us on Friday 9 April.
While Alison Johnstone MSP was the original planned speaker at this event, a last minute change meant that she was unable to attend, so it was great that Mark was able to join us instead. Mark was the first speaker in our series to condemn the dualling of the A96. This was, of course, very welcomed by the audience. He also discussed the need for the next Parliament to make a ‘step change’ to meet the emission reduction targets set by the Scottish Government for 2030, pointing towards the need for both ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ policies.
Our final ‘Moving the Vote’ event took place on the 23 April with the current Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson MSP.
We were excited to welcome Michael Matheson MSP to share his party’s vision for Scottish transport. The commitment made by the SNP to spend £500m on bus prioritisation in the next five years was welcomed by the audience, as well as his framing of transport as key in tackling the Climate Emergency. However, there were questions raised about the SNP’s continued spending on road expansion schemes (notably the A9 and A96) and how this fitted in with their goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2045.
Despite such a difficult year, ongoing support and dialogue with companies for the #lovemybus campaign has been hugely valued – with First Bus able to come in as key partners, enabling the campaign to go ahead with the support from Smarter Choices Smarter Places. As well as encouraging people to choose bus travel today for all the associated benefits, the campaign broadened to also advocate the critical role of bus in reaching a just, green recovery.
We are delighted to welcome Stacey O’Flaherty to the #lovemybus team. Stacey is working alongside Jess, Emma and our amazing team of #lovemybus associates and Champions to promote bus and all the benefits it brings.
Our Champions represent those who work in the bus industry. Their important insights into the everyday experience of bus, their customers and the impact of the pandemic, has been invaluable to the campaign. We are excited to be rolling out virtual #lovemybus events, to share an insight and hold wider conversations on bus as a solution for our biggest challenges. Any interested groups can book an event directly with the team here: https://calendly.com/lovemybus
A new website will be launched soon and we hope you can follow all the diverse contributions on twitter, facebook and instagram – please do join the conversation with #lovemybus and let us know if you would like to provide your own blog on why this mode of transport is important to you.
Read more about the #lovemybus campaign here.
What do transport groups want from the next Scottish Government?
At the beginning of March, the Cross-Party Group on Walking, Cycling, and Buses held their final meeting of the 2016-2021 parliamentary session.
After the Group was set up in 2016 to ‘raise the profile of walking, cycling and bus use within the Scottish Parliament, and help to promote policies and priorities relating to these forms of transport, and the linkages between them’, the final meeting last month concluded in the members sharing their top transport policy recommendations for the next Scottish Government.
The results of this meeting were collated by Transform’s Director, Colin Howden, and can be found here.
It is interesting to consider these recommendations in light of the proposed transport policies that have appeared in the political party manifestos published over the past few weeks.