Transform Scotland has today sent a parliamentary briefing to all Members of the Scottish Parliament ahead of this afternoon’s opposition debate, ‘Access to Bus Services‘.
In our briefing paper, we highlight the need for further support for public transport fares in light of the trend in recent years that has seen fares rise relative to the cost of driving and way above inflation. We argue that this, in combination with the damaging impacts of the pandemic on bus patronage and the escalating cost-of-living crisis, is putting an unacceptable financial strain on many who are already struggling to afford using public transport.
While we recognise that there may be merit in Labour’s suggestion of a cap in bus fares, we argue that further attention should also be given to moving to flat-fare public transport ticketing (as part of the Scottish Government’s Fair Fares Review), citing successful examples from both Germany and Austria.
Finally, we highlight two funding sources for financing this new approach to ticketing:
- Scottish Government should divert funds from its roads programme to investment in zero-carbon transport.
- Local Authorities should use the powers for local road user charging & workplace parking levies provided to them under the 2001 and 2019 Scottish transport acts
Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:
“We’re pleased that Labour have moved on from its prior fixation on ownership and regulation to the more fertile ground of fair transport prices. It is unreasonable to expect people to transfer from private car to public transport while the price trends move remorselessly in the favour of the former.
“Transforming the fortunes for Scotland’s bus services will also require action to reallocate road space to bus services. The Labour motion calls for Local Authorities to be empowered to improve public transport. However, the slow progress in delivering the £500m worth of bus priority improvements promised by the Scottish Ministers in 2019 must also lay in part at the doors of the Local Authorities themselves.
“Beyond Edinburgh’s failed attempt at a congestion charge in 2005, we’re still also waiting to see any Scottish Local Authorities use the powers given to them by the Scottish Parliament over the past 20 years to implement the traffic demand management schemes that would rebalance transport prices towards public transport as well as provide revenue for investment in improved services.”