The Scottish Government has confirmed that there are ‘no plans’ to provide funding for its Bus Partnership Fund – a fund originally announced in 2019 as a climate emergency response.
Director Colin Howden highlights how the decision to suspend funding will have adverse impacts on Scotland’s most vulnerable passengers:
“We’re deeply concerned about the future prospects for Scotland’s buses. The Scottish Government’s decision to cancel its £500 million commitment to bus priority undermines efforts to improve bus service reliability and speed, which are the top barriers to bus use.
“Buses are most heavily used by lower income households, so moving forward quickly with bus priority would have the greatest benefits for those people most affected by the cost-of-living crisis.
“The Government’s announcement in 2019 of a £500 million investment in bus priority was rightly welcomed as a transformational commitment to Scotland’s main form of public transport. But it’s over four years since the Scottish Government announced the Bus Partnership Fund and we’re yet to see a single metre of new bus lane on the ground.
“The slow speed and unreliability of bus services is one of the principal barriers that deters people from taking the bus. Putting in place new bus priority would reduce congestion and improve journey times, meaning time and money savings for both passengers and operators. But just 6% of the funds have so far been spent. This lack of progress will likely have further exacerbated fare increases and service cuts.
“Bus patronage has still to recover to pre-pandemic levels, and, as expected, this has led to cuts to bus services and frequencies, and increased fares. So the decision of the Scottish Government to cancel its main investment fund for bus services as part of its Scottish Budget for 2024/25 is particularly foolish.
“The success of bus priority measures is clear. Aberdeen’s introduction of bus gates has resulted in shorter journey times – with the savings for First and Stagecoach being reinvested to provide free travel for passengers in January.”
Read our quote in The Herald.
Read CPT’s letter to the Transport Minister in response to funding suspension.