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Transport Bill debate in Parliament: need for further action to reverse decline in bus use

Published 04 April 2019 by Transform Scotland

We have published the parliamentary briefing that we have issued to all Members of the Scottish Parliament ahead of this afternoon’s Stage 1 Debate on the Transport (Scotland) Bill.

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said:

“While the provisions in the Bill on buses are generally welcome, they should not be seen as a panacea for tackling the decline in bus patronage: further investment is also required.

“The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee’s report on the Bill would suggest that it is not convinced that the Bill’s proposals will significantly address declining bus patronage. The Committee recommends greater flexibility for Local Authorities to operate bus services than currently proposed, but is cautious about how readily this, Bus Service Improvement Partnerships, or franchising, will be taken up. Therefore, we welcome the Committee’s highlighting of the need for improving and extending bus priorities.

“We further welcome the Committee’s call for the Government to “consider whether an appropriate quality assurance framework could be developed”; we had highlighted a need for standards or benchmarks of some kind in our evidence to the Committee.”

“Unfortunately, the Bill includes no measures to simplify and facilitate Traffic Regulation Orders or Redetermination Orders. As well as encouraging Local Authorities to establish bus priority measures, this would have cost-saving benefits, and make engagement in the process easier for the public. The Bill should also facilitate the enforcement of traffic regulations. We have previously suggested a range of measures, such as streamlining the process for certifying bus model/camera combinations, and extending decriminalised regimes to allow traffic attendants to enforce a range of bus lane and cycle lane parking offences. In the pavement and double parking sections of the Bill, the Scottish Government recognises the need for more decriminalised parking regimes. Therefore it would not, in principle, be difficult to consider measures to widen traffic attendants’ powers.”

Our briefing also:

  • Welcomes the Committee’s recommendation on parking that the 20 minute blanket exemption for loading be removed from the Bill.
  • Welcomes the forthcoming amendment to the Bill to provide Local Authorities with enabling powers to introduce Workplace Parking Levies. There is no prospect of making significant progress towards sustainable transport without road traffic demand management measures aimed at tackling the overuse of private cars in congested, polluted urban centres — and Workplace Parking Levy powers should be an option for Local Authorities in order to take action here.