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Worrying fall in bus use in new Government statistics

Published 22 February 2017 by Colin Howden

Transform Scotland

Wednesday 22 February 2017

‘Scottish Transport Statistics 2016’ shows bus use in continued decline

Transform Scotland [1] has today commented on the worrying decline in bus use shown in Transport Scotland’s ‘Scottish Transport Statistics 2016’, published today. [2]

The new report shows a 5% fall in bus use over the past five years. [3] The report also states that “funding from Local and National Government is now 5 per cent lower than five years ago”.

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“Buses provide the vast majority of public transport services in Scotland so it’s very worrying to see this year-on-year decline in bus use. Buses play an important role in reducing congestion in urban areas and providing services to lower-income groups who often don’t have access to cars.

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government continues to cut investment in bus services. Government funding has reduced by 5% over the past five years, and this week’s Parliamentary debate on the Scottish Budget looks set to agree a further 3% cut in bus investment over the next year. [4] The Government should instead be taking action to cut congestion by putting in place bus priority in urban areas, and protecting threatened rural bus services.”

Howden concluded:

“It’s not as if the Scottish Government is short of funds to invest in our bus services. It is currently promoting a vast tax cut for the aviation industry which will cost up to £300m every year. This is larger than the entire bus investment budget. This comes despite continued growth in aviation. [5] It remains to be seen if the Scottish Ministers’ planned APD tax cut will harm other parts of the transport budget in future years. It would be grossly unfair if investment in bus services, upon which many of Scotland’s lowest income households depend, ends up having to be cut in order to fund tax cuts for frequent flyers.”



[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together rail, bus and ferry operators, local authorities, national environment and conservation groups, businesses and local transport groups — see <> for details.

[2] ‘Scottish Transport Statistics No 35: 2016 Edition’

[3] Scottish Transport Statistics 2016, Chapter 2: Bus And Coach Travel

[4] Scottish Budget 2017-18

Bus investment falls from £261.3m in 2016-17 to £254.4m in 2017-18. See e.g.

[5] Scottish Transport Statistics 2016, Chapter 8: Air Transport in Scotland