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Investment in bus services critical to reversing decline

Published 20 March 2019 by Transform Scotland

We have issued a parliamentary briefing in advance of this afternoon’s Scottish Parliamentary debate by the Scottish Labour Party on bus services.

Transform Scotland director Colin Howden said:

“Providing free bus travel for the under-25s may have merit as a policy, but we would wish to see further evidence as to its likely impact. Whether this is indeed the best focus for investment, it would be certainly fair to identify that bus services have not been a focus for Scottish Government investment in recent years.

“While the Scottish Budget for transport has increased by over 25% during the last seven years, investment in bus services has increased by only c. 5% — and it should be noted that the bulk of the bus spend is reimbursements to operators for concessionary fares, rather than direct investment in services. “

[1] Scottish Government spend on transport increased from £2,028.2m in 2012/13 (outturn) to £2,579.8m in 2019/20 (budget). Scottish Government spend on ‘Concessionary Fares and Bus Services’ increased from £258.9m in 2012/13 (outturn) to £272.9m in 2019/20 (budget). ‘Transport’ here is defined as the sum of the following six budget lines: ‘Rail Services’, ‘Concessionary Fares and Bus Services’, ‘Other Transport …’, ‘Motorways’, ‘Ferry Services’ and ‘Air Services’. All figures from Draft Budget 2019-20. The period 2012/13 to 2019/20 was chosen as this is the entirety of the data presented in the Draft Budget; if the data was available, we expect that a longer time series would show a similar pattern.