Driven round the bend by late buses and rude driv­ers? It’s time to blow the whis­tle ...

Sunday Herald - - TRANSPORT - SPE­CIAL RE­PORT BY PETER SWIN­DON

BUS pas­sen­gers dis­mayed at poor ser­vice and bad-tem­pered driv­ers can vent their frus­tra­tion in a new na­tional sur­vey launched to­day by Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land.

The char­ity has de­signed the on­line ques­tion­naire to gather in­for­ma­tion on prob­lems across the coun­try and the most shock­ing ex­am­ples will be passed to one of its 61 lo­cal bu­reaux to in­ves­ti­gate. CAS says it will en­sure ac­tion is taken to deal with the worst cases.

Anal­y­sis of com­plaints re­ceived by Bus Users Scot­land, a pres­sure group led by pas­sen­gers, shows that ser­vice re­li­a­bil­ity, driver at­ti­tude, and buses fail­ing to stop or show up are the most com­mon prob­lems.

Bus fares in Scot­land have in­creased by al­most 19 per cent in the last five years, ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent statis­tics re­leased by Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment agency Trans­port Scot­land while bus op­er­a­tor rev­enue stood at £671 mil­lion last year, with Gov­ern­ment sub­sidy mak­ing up 45 per cent of it (£301m).

The CAS sur­vey fol­lows a re­port re­leased last year by the char­ity which re­vealed wide­spread dis­sat­is­fac­tion among bus users.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive re­search project called Round The Bend cov­ered the ex­pe­ri­ence of 113 lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in Scot­land and un­cov­ered con­cerns about sparse timeta­bles and ex­pen­sive ticket prices. CAS pol­icy of­fi­cer Ruth Men­del said: “Our re­port last year pro­vided ev­i­dence of a num­ber of prob­lems con­sumers had in ac­cess­ing and us­ing buses.

“We now want to ex­pand that work and gather more pas­sen­ger opin­ion to look at how to al­le­vi­ate some of these prob­lems. We want to hear di­rect from Scot­land’s bus users how sat­is­fied they are and what their pri­or­i­ties are in re­la­tion to trav­el­ling by bus.”

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has three open con­sul­ta­tions on buses while Trans­port Scot­land is also re­view­ing the Na­tional Trans­port Strat­egy which is ex­pected to pro­vide a Scot­tish trans­port vi­sion for the next two decades.

Men­del said: “Al­though over 75 per cent of all public trans­port jour­neys are made by bus, all too fre­quently the views of bus pas­sen­gers have been un­der-rep­re­sented in pol­icy mak­ing. CAS wants to en­sure these con­sumers’ voices are heard through this sur­vey.”

CAS cam­paigns of­fi­cer Lucy Man­son said: “The ul­ti­mate aim of the cam­paign is to get bet­ter buses for Scots.

“In or­der to do this we need to ask peo­ple what mat­ters to them when trav­el­ling by bus. We’d like peo­ple to tell us how sat­is­fied they are with their cur­rent pro­vi­sion: do you want more routes, bet­ter timetabling in­for­ma­tion, or some­thing else? We know from pre­vi­ous work ... that some es­sen­tial jour­neys cost too much or take too long. It’s im­por­tant these sto­ries are heard so that the peo­ple mak­ing the de­ci­sions can make the right ones.”

The sur­vey was wel­comed by Bus Users Scot­land direc­tor Gavin Booth, who said the feed­back “can help bus com­pa­nies and lo­cal trans­port au­thor­i­ties to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices”.

John Fin­nie MSP, the Scot­tish Greens’ trans­port spokesper­son, added: “Here’s hop­ing the find­ings of this Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land sur­vey will be used to im­prove bus ser­vices in this coun­try and lead to re-reg­u­la­tion to stop com­pa­nies cherry-pick­ing prof­itable routes and leav­ing some com­mu­ni­ties stranded.”

The CAS sur­vey runs from to­day un­til Oc­to­ber 22 and can be found at: www.cas.org.uk/bet­ter­buses.

Pas­sen­gers can vent their frus­tra­tion in a new bus sur­vey launched to­day by Cit­i­zens Ad­vice Scot­land

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