Campaign launch calls for ‘Fair Deal for Scotland’s Bus Users’

Transform Scotland

NEWS RELEASE

Monday 14 March 2016

CAMPAIGN LAUNCH CALLS FOR ‘FAIR DEAL FOR SCOTLAND’S BUS USERS’:
Bus campaign publishes new research setting out contribution of bus commuters to Scottish economy

Transform Scotland [1] has today (Monday 14 Mar) launched a new campaign calling for a fairer deal for Scotland’s bus users. The ‘Bus Fair’ campaign [2] highlights the economic, social and environmental benefits that buses bring and sets out proposals for promoting bus travel in Scotland. ‘Bus Fair’ sets out three key demands to encourage much-needed action to be taken to improve Scotland’s buses: bus priority, smartcards, and tax relief for bus commuters. The campaign website is at http://busfair.transform.scot

The campaign launch comes as Transform publishes new research on the economic impact of buses in Scotland, focussing on their importance for commuters [3]:

• Buses Support 260,000 Scottish Jobs
• Bus commuters contribute £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy
• 11% of people who travel to work by bus at some point in time would leave their job if there was no bus service.

Transform Scotland chair Phil Matthews said:

“We need the transport debate to pay much more attention to buses. There is an ongoing fascination with new air routes, motorways, and high-speed trains, but very little focus on the mode of transport used by most users of public transport on a daily basis. That is why we’re today launching our ‘Bus Fair’ campaign.

“Government figures released a fortnight ago showed that there had been a 10% fall in bus passengers within just the past five years. [4] So it’s now imperative that government turns more of its attention to how it can reverse this worrying fall in bus use. While there has been welcome growth in rail travel over the past decade, rail remains a small part of overall Scottish public transport, with buses still moving 80% of all travellers.”

Phil continued:

“Buses are important for the Scottish economy, but investment in buses is also important for societal reasons. Lower income groups, young people, women, and the elderly are disproportionately dependent on buses in order to get around. If political parties are serious about a fairer and more inclusive Scotland they need to focus on buses and thereby better meet the needs of these groups.”

The Bus Fair campaign is calling for:

* Bus priority

Bus travel is the most common mode of public transport in Scotland, yet one in ten bus journeys suffer from delays due to road congestion. Congestion leads to longer journey times, increased air pollution and major economic costs for Scotland’s economy. Bus Fair calls for increased investment in bus lanes and other priority measures to help reduce bus journey times and minimise congestion on Scotland’s roads.

* Scotland-wide smart ticketing

Bus Fair calls for the introduction of a Scotland-wide smart ticketing scheme usable by all modes of public transport – bus, tram, subway, train and ferry. The success of other smart ticketing schemes, such as London’s Oyster card, highlights the overwhelming benefits to passengers and the public sector alike of a universal travel card. A Scottish smart ticket would enable flexible, integrated travel across Scotland and would remove the current barriers to public transport, such as separate cash payment for each journey.

* ‘Bus Bonus’

We are calling for the Scottish Government to press the UK Government to provide tax relief for public transport season tickets, in order to provide equal treatment for bus users. Given that HMRC continues to offer tax incentives for car parking at workplaces, it is unfair that bus commuters do not benefit from an equivalent system. The success of other tax relief schemes, such as the ‘Cycle to Work Scheme’, has proven the benefits of encouraging sustainable commuting by means of government incentives. A similar system for buses would present a fairer deal for regular bus users and encourage commuters to take the bus more frequently.

Further information about the ‘Bus Fair’ campaign can be found at http://busfair.transform.scot

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors — see http://transformscotland.org.uk/who-we-are/our-members/ for details.

[2] ‘Bus Fair’ campaign

‘Bus Fair’ is a campaign by Transform Scotland calling for greater support and investment for Scotland’s buses. See http://busfair.transform.scot for the campaign website.

[3] New bus research

The research factsheet is available at http://busfair.transformscotland.org.uk/portfolio/getting-us-to-work/ References are available on request.

Over the next few months, the campaign will be publishing further research findings on the economic contribution of buses to shopping and leisure trips, the role of buses in providing equal access to Scotland’s people, and the role of buses in cutting levels of congestion and pollution.

[4] Fall in bus passenger numbers

See http://www.transport.gov.scot/report/j415388-05.htm

END OF NEWS RELEASE