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Transport and Travel statistics: Scottish Budget must favour sustainable transport to reverse worrying declines

Published 26 September 2017 by Transform Scotland

Transport Scotland has today published new statistics which highlight worrying trends for sustainable modes of transport.

Transport and Travel in Scotland 2016′, compiled by the Office for National Statistics, shows a decline in people walking to work and using the bus, and an increase in journeys made by plane and car between 2015 and 2016. There were however more positive figures for rail passenger numbers and cycling.

The headline figures are:

  • A reduction in the number of people walking to work
  • A 3.8% decline in bus passenger numbers
  • A 2% increase in car traffic
  • A 3.8% increase in air passenger numbers
  • A 2.6% increase in cycle traffic
  • A 1.1% increase in rail passenger numbers

Despite some positives with rail passenger numbers and the numbers of journeys made by bike, the statistics reveal serious issues in Scottish transport. Bus passenger numbers are continuing to decline, whilst car use is increasing.

The statistics confirm that the Scottish Government is still failing to tackle it’s key aims to reduce congestion and achieve a modal shift to sustainable modes of transport, as set out through their National Indicators.


Commenting on the new statistics, Policy and Communications Officer Jamie Wylie said:

The statistics revealed today confirm that the Scottish Government is still failing to achieve their own aim to achieve a modal shift to sustainable transport. Another worrying decline in bus use shows that for all the Government’s supportive messages, public transport users are still losing out due to a lack of bus priority and congestion from private cars in our urban areas.

“Whilst it’s pleasing to see some increases in cycling, the Government still has a long way to go to meet its target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020. An increase in rail passenger numbers is also good news, but journey times are still largely un-competitive with car travel due to decades of under-investment in new rail infrastructure.

“Aviation is growing faster than any other mode of transport in Scotland, yet the Government continues to pursue an unfair and unjustified ADT tax cut for the aviation industry. The Scottish Government would be far better off supporting Scotland’s public transport users and investing in affordable, clean and reliable services.

“Action is desperately needed to reverse the decline in sustainable transport and address the increases in private car use and aviation. The upcoming Scottish Budget needs to be taken as an opportunity to stop subsidising private car use and aviation – the two most polluting forms of transport. Without action to rebalance transport spending to favour sustainable modes, the transport sector will continue to hamper Scotland’s efforts on climate change, equalities and many other of the Government’s wider ambitions.”