Our latest report ‘Off Track’ finds that Scotland’s most vulnerable transport users are being neglected by Government delays. The Scottish Government had promised to report on its Fair Fares Review (a process which seeks to refresh public transport pricing for a more sustainable and integrated network) in spring 2023 but our report finds that any updates are delayed until the end of the year – over 2 years since the Review was initially announced.
As a result, we’re calling for urgent action to address fare pricing and structures to make public transport accessible for all.
The report comes in advance of the upcoming 2023-24 Programme for Government (PfG) announcement. It reviews whether ten crucial sustainable transport commitments made in PfGs of recent years are being met. We find that while some of the commitments are on track, progress on others has been slow, and in a few cases there has been no progress at all.
Report author, Laura Hyde-White, said:
“The delayed progress on the Government’s Fair Fares Review is deeply concerning, especially during a cost of living crisis which sees more and more Scots struggling to meet their transport costs. This rise in transport poverty, in combination with falling passenger levels post-pandemic, means interventions to make public transport more affordable and accessible are essential and urgent. Given the First Minister’s focus on tackling poverty, it’s imperative that we see action to support those on low incomes who are particularly reliant on buses for their travel needs.
“Moreover, in failing to meet its own deadlines to deliver a more sustainable and integrated approach to ticketing, the Government is undermining its own climate targets. Given that a 60-150% increase in public transport use is necessary to meet the Government’s climate commitment to cut car traffic by 2030, it is clear we must remove cost barriers and make public transport easier and more affordable than car travel.”
Ten specific commitments were chosen from the Programmes for Government that were released since the Scottish ‘Climate Emergency’ declaration in 2019. The increase in the active travel budget, delivery of free bus travel for under-22s, and phase out of ICE vehicles were found to be on track. The report found slow or insufficient progress on bus priority infrastructure investment, decarbonisation of rail services, and low emission ferries. Meanwhile, the targets to decarbonise Scotland’s bus fleets, provide bus priority on Glasgow’s motorway network, and reduce car traffic look set to be missed.
In a foreword to the report, director, Colin Howden, said:
“Various Scottish administrations have spent the past two decades locking high-carbon into our transport system by prioritising spending on new roads, dwarfing investment in low-carbon transport. It’s now imperative that we see a genuinely radical reset towards zero-carbon investment, with the nice soundbites about ‘net zero’ replaced by investment decisions prioritising low-carbon investment over the failed transport priorities that have led us so far off track in the first place.”