MSP backs new bill to regulate bus industry
James Kelly wants the SNP to deliver better bus services across Scotland
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