MSP backs new bill to reg­u­late bus in­dus­try

James Kelly wants the SNP to de­liver bet­ter bus ser­vices across Scot­land

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Will Hen­shaw

Ruther­glen MSP James Kelly has backed a bill which aims to reg­u­late the bus in­dus­try, claim­ing it will save lo­cal ser­vices.

James’ Scot­tish Labour col­league Iain Gray has launched the Bus Reg­u­la­tion (Scot­land) Bill which aims to give trans­port au­thor­i­ties greater power over how bus ser­vices are run, in­clud­ing a new fran­chis­ing power to ten­der “qual­ity con­tracts” for prof­itable and non-prof­itable routes to­gether.

The in­ten­tion is that less prof­itable routes can be bun­dled with prof­itable routes to en­sure they are pro­tected.

The Bill also pro­poses a power for the Traf­fic Com­mis­sioner to pe­nalise op­er­a­tors where fran­chise agree­ments are bro­ken.

James says that bus ser­vices re­main an is­sue of huge con­cern, with his records show­ing that over 500 peo­ple have con­tacted him about bus ser­vices since his elec­tion as an MSP in 2007.

He said: “In my time as an MSP I have re­ceived huge amounts of cor­re­spon­dence from con­stituents when sup­pos­edly ‘less prof­itable’ routes are re­stricted or cut by com­pa­nies. Th­ese cuts al­ways im­pact on the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ties.

“Pub­lic trans­port should serve the pub­lic, not the back pock­ets of busi­ness­men.

“The SNP used to back bus reg­u­la­tion, but they u-turned on the is­sue be­fore the 2007 elec­tion. I am call­ing on them to back this bill and de­liver bet­ter bus ser­vices for peo­ple across Scot­land”

Unite the Union’s Scot­tish Sec­re­tary, Pat Raf­ferty, said: “We are long-stand­ing cam­paigner for re­form in Scot­land’s bus in­dus­try and we strongly be­lieve it needs leg­isla­tive in­ter­ven­tion and eco­nomic support from gov­er­nance cou­pled with a clear strat­egy for growth to de­liver sus­tain­able, ef­fi­cient and af­ford­able bus ser­vices across Scot­land.

“Unite be­lieves that Iain Gray’s pro­pos­als will put Scot­land’s bus in­dus­try on the road to do­ing just that and we would urge MSPs and the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to embrace this Bill.”

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment Spokes­woman said they are con­sid­er­ing the bill and added: “The present sys­tem com­bines a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket with sub­stan­tial pub­lic support and a range of pow­ers for lo­cal trans­port au­thor­i­ties to in­ter­vene to se­cure so­cially de­sir­able ser­vices where th­ese are not be­ing pro­vided com­mer­cially.

“Sur­veys show high lev­els of user sat­is­fac­tion. How­ever, we are happy to con­sider con­struc­tive pro­pos­als for change. That is why we will look at the costs and ben­e­fits of Mr Gray’s spe­cific pro­pos­als care­fully in the course of our con­tin­u­ing work with the Bus Stake­holder Group.

“We have re­cently con­cluded a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on pos­si­ble changes iden­ti­fied by the Group to the process for reg­is­ter­ing bus ser­vices with the Traf­fic Com­mis­sioner.

“Th­ese are aimed at cre­at­ing more op­por­tu­nity for di­a­logue and part­ner­ship be­tween op­er­a­tors and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“We are analysing the re­sponses with a view to im­ple­men­ta­tion over the course of next year.”

Pub­lic trans­port should serve the pub­lic

Trans­port call James Kelly wants bus ser­vice re­form

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