Buses debated at Holyrood

Posted on April 19, 2012

This morning’s debate on bus services was very heated, perhaps predictably given how close the local elections are. But there was recognition across the chamber that bus services in Scotland aren’t good enough. Labour and the SNP of course loudly blamed each other, but I tried to bring in some of the voices of bus passengers and their comments on the betterbuses website.

You can see my opening speech if you skip forward to 00:31:28.

And here are the motions and amendments:

S4M-02639 Elaine Murray: Transport—

That the Parliament notes the concerns expressed by bus service operators, passengers and the trade unions that represent bus workers regarding the impact of the Scottish Government’s changes to the Bus Service Operators Grant; notes that the Scottish Government’s decision to cut the grant by 17% in 2012-13 and to revise the formula has, along with the underfunding of the concessionary travel scheme and high fuel costs, resulted in fare increases and service reductions across the country; recognises that this has also contributed to the decision by First Scotland East to reduce dramatically its services in Lothian and Midlothian, with the potential loss of around 200 jobs; believes that the Scottish Government has failed to listen to the concerns of operators, bus service workers and passengers; urges ministers to take action to address the immediate problems of the industry, including urgently revisiting the 17% cut in the Bus Service Operators Grant, and instead begin proper negotiations with operators to ensure that the scheme is sustained at a level that does not threaten services, jobs and high fare increases, and believes that new legislation is required to enable the regulation of bus services in Scotland to ensure sustainable and reliable bus services throughout the country.

S4M-02639.3 Keith Brown: Transport—
As an amendment to motion S4M-02639 in the name of Elaine Murray (Transport), leave out from first “concerns” to end and insert:

“total funding of nearly £250 million per year provided to Scotland’s buses as part of total Scottish Government support for public transport of £1.181 billion; welcomes the Scottish Government’s continuing commitment to the national concessionary travel scheme and Bus Service Operators Grant; welcomes the inclusion in these schemes of demand-responsive transport services available to the general public, such as dial-a-bus; welcomes the Scottish Government’s additional funding of up to £40 million for Glasgow Fastlink, £6 million for low-carbon buses and up to £10 million for Halbeath Park and Ride; welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to innovative solutions such as hard-shoulder running on the M77 and the new £3 million Bus Investment Fund; welcomes its ongoing financial support for passenger-focussed organisations such as Bus Users UK, the Community Transport Association and Traveline Scotland; notes the role of local government in supporting local bus services, previously through the Bus Route Development Grant, which is now incorporated in the general funding of local government; recognises that the per capita subsidy for bus services in Scotland is significantly higher than in England; welcomes the constructive dialogue initiated in the Bus Stakeholder Group and in the Lothians over the future of bus services; notes that First Bus states that fuel prices and economic conditions over a number of years are contributing to its increased costs; notes that the price of diesel has increased by 57% over the last five years and the price of petrol by 55%; further notes that fuel duty in the UK is the highest in the EU, and therefore calls on the UK Government to ease the pressure on all forms of transport by introducing a fuel duty regulator to stabilise fuel costs for all forms of transport and to scrap plans to increase fuel duty in August.”

S4M-02639.1 Jim Hume: Transport—
As an amendment to motion S4M-02639 in the name of Elaine Murray (Transport), leave out from “has, along with the underfunding” to end and insert:

“was arrived at without any formal consultation with bus operators or users, with bus operators given inadequate time to adjust their businesses to the formula change and has, along with the underfunding of the concessionary travel scheme and high fuel costs, resulted in fare increases and service reductions across the country; recognises that this has also contributed to the decision by First Scotland East to reduce dramatically its services in Lothian and Midlothian, with the potential loss of around 200 jobs; believes that the Scottish Government has failed to listen to the concerns of operators, bus service workers and passengers, and urges ministers to take action to address the immediate problems of the industry, undertake proper consultation with operators and users and use extra money available to Scotland, following the UK Budget, to prioritise and safeguard bus services and guard against high fare increases.”

S4M-02639.4 Patrick Harvie: Transport—
As an amendment to motion S4M-02639 in the name of Elaine Murray (Transport), leave out from second “notes” to end and insert:

“believes that successive Scottish administrations have failed both to provide the level of financial support necessary to maintain high quality and affordable bus transport in all communities and to adequately regulate the industry to ensure value for taxpayers’ money; recognises that bus fares in many parts of Scotland are now less affordable than train fares and even taxis in some circumstances; considers that fuel prices are likely to continue to rise and that this will create a greater need for high quality and affordable public transport as an alternative to private car use; notes the lack of any statutory body protecting the interests of bus passengers; believes that bus users’ voices are not being adequately heard in the debate on bus transport; encourages bus passengers to publish their views through the http://betterbuses.org website; calls on the Scottish Government to reverse the cut in the Bus Service Operators Grant, ensure that overall public spending on bus services is adequate to protect services, jobs and fares and extend the remit of Passenger Focus in Scotland to bus users, and believes that new legislation is required to enable the regulation of bus services in Scotland to ensure sustainable and reliable bus services throughout the country.”

1 Comment

  1. I have to choose between buses and taxis because I have epilepsy (so I’m not allowed to drive). My husband and I often choose taxis because they nearly always provide an immediate door to door service. We would choose buses much more often if they were more frequent.
    (30yrs ago in London no timetable was needed)

    Comment by Chris Lesurf — April 26, 2012 @ 12:34 pm