Simpson Urges Responses to Bus Consultation
Scottish Labour MSP Iain Grey has launched the Bus Regulation (Scotland) Bill, proposing a series of changes to way bus services are run in Scotland.
The Members’ Bill aims to give transport authorities greater power over how bus services are run, including a new franchising power to tender contracts for profitable and non-profitable routes together, without seeking ministers’ consent or having to “demonstrate market failure”. The Bill proposes a power for the Traffic Commissioner to penalise operators where franchise agreements are broken.
The proposal is now out for consultation until the end of August and is being distributed to constituents, community and other interest groups, as well as bus industry bodies and operators.
Dr Richard Simpson, MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife said:
“Bus services form an integral part of our daily lives, allowing us to access local services and support the local economy. Whilst 20% of Scots are thought to be without access to a car it is vital we protect these services and the freedom they allow us.
I believe some of the most important stake holders in bus services are those who use and rely upon them regularly, and therefore I’m hoping many of you will go ahead to take part in the consultation.”
Iain Gray MSP, said:
“I speak with many constituents who are rightly angry when local bus services are cut, but feel powerless when councils tell them it’s down to a commercial decision by the operator.
“My Bill aims to give more power to local transport authorities, by giving them a greater say in how services are delivered in their area beyond the most basic terms. At the moment, the system makes it too easy for operators to walk away from even those services they are paid to deliver, and when they do, it’s communities that suffer.
“Following recent bad experiences with bus services in my own East Lothian constituency, and several other areas across Scotland, I believe the time is right for this proposal. The current market-driven set-up is letting too many people down and this needs to change.
“There is a growing awareness that there are five times as many bus journeys as rail in Scotland, yet rail gets more attention and more public funding. I believe there is support in Parliament for this proposal to be debated, and I look forward to the responses to my consultation contributing to that debate.”
In order to respond to the consultation, or to view the document in full, see http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_MembersBills/Final_consultation_Regulation_of_Bus_Bill_S4.pdf, or contact the office of Iain Gray at email@example.com, or on 0131 348 5901.
Notes for editors:
Bus Regulation Bill – Executive Summary
– Bill aims to reverse long-term decline in bus industry by improving services and increasing passenger journeys
– Presently authorities fund services with little say in how they are run
– Will give more power to local transport authorities to decide how services are run locally, including on frequency and fares
– Powers will also include ability to ‘bundle’ profitable and unprofitable routes to be franchised together
– Local authority fleets might also be used to provide socially useful services where there are gaps in provision
– Role of Traffic Commissioner in Scotland will also be strengthened to impose tougher financial penalties on operators breaking terms of franchises
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 0131 348 5901.