Scottish Parliament debates Bus services

The parliament recently held a debate on Bus services. I am dismayed at the announcement that First Glasgow have increased fares for under 16’s by 40% and over 16’s by 16%. This recent fare hike is a result of the dire de-regulation that occurred decades ago. It is now obvious that the Scottish government must use its powers to re-regulate bus Services.

I am clear that bus services must be brought back under public control. Various models or public ownership and co-operative models are available which have been shown to work across Europe. Buses run for profit have resulted in a staggering set of statistics.

Indeed, Unite the Union have published the following figures:

  • The number of bus routes registered with the Traffic Commissioner has fallen by 21% since 2006. 
  • Since 2007, the number of journeys taken by bus in Scotland is down by 74 million – a 15% drop.
  • On current prices, local bus fares have jumped by 18% over the past five years.
  • A staggering £2.6 billion in public subsidies has been handed to bus firms in Scotland since 2006/07, fuelling healthy profits

 

A number of my Labour colleagues including Colin Smyth spoke during the debate, which was held on the 31st of January. Colin said

“The matter raises fundamental issues about how we manage bus services, not only in Glasgow and West Scotland but right across the country, and that is the issue on which I will focus my brief comments. As we know, buses are disproportionately used by young people, older adults, the unemployed, students and often other people on low incomes. Spiralling bus fares therefore hit those who can least afford it, and the savage cuts to services in recent years have often removed the only viable travel option for many.

First Bus’s unacceptable fare increases reflect a wider trend of rises by bus companies right across Scotland. Adjusting for inflation, bus fares have increased by an average of 12 per cent in the 10 years from 2006 to 2016. The latest set of fare rises are not a one-off; they are a result of a system that is failing and that will continue to fail until we intervene.

The challenges that we face with bus services go beyond price hikes. There are growing problems with the regularity and availability of buses, and private bus companies often remove services with little warning and no consultation. Services across Scotland have been steadily diminished over recent years, with the number of vehicle kilometres covered by local bus services decreasing by 17 per cent from 2007 to 2016. With fares rising and services contracting, it is no surprise that bus use is plummeting. Provisional figures from Transport Scotland show that, between 2007 and 2016, the total number of journeys taken by bus each year declined by 19 per cent in Scotland and by 27 per cent in the south-west and Strathclyde.”

I will continue campaign alongside my colleagues for a regulated and fair bus system that delivers for the people of Scotland.

Please Join Unite the Unions peoples bus Campaign – Haud bus here: http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/listofregions/scotland/scotlandcampaigns/haud-the-bus-campaign-page/

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