Labour and Campaigners Eye Transport Bill As A Chance to Fix Scotland’s Buses
Scottish Labour and transport campaigners are looking to amend the forthcoming transport bill in order to re-regulate Scotland’s bus network.
Colin Smyth, Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson, has laid out the party’s plan to fix Scotland’s crumbling under regulated bus network. The primary focus will be on lifting the ban on councils starting their own municipal bus companies, but there are also moves to enforce far tougher worker protections. Given the ongoing strike action being taken by Aberdeen bus drivers, the timing could not be more appropriate.
Speaking on the proposed amendments, Colin Smyth said:
“Re-regulation is needed to protect life line services and to stop bus companies cherry picking the most profitable routes. But we should also use re-regulation to reverse the current race to the bottom for staff terms and conditions, put a stop to rip-off fares - ending the postcode lottery that exists for young people and concessionary travel and protecting the bus pass for those over 60.
“Labour will also press for the lifting of the ban on councils establishing new municipal bus companies and for tighter rules on consultation before bus routes can be changed. Labour’s plans will call a halt to a decade of decline on our buses under the SNP and ensure bus services are for the many, not the few.”
Haud The Bus, a campaign started by Unite community organisers to fight against cuts to bus services and for integrated municipal transport, also has high hopes for the Transport Bill. A spokesperson for the Haud The Bus campaign said:
“Unite Community started the Haud the Bus campaign to battle against the cuts to local services by private companies. After successfully winning those campaigns we moved on to the real problem of a deregulated bus services, which is that these companies put shareholders before commuters. Great public transport should be viewed as a priority, especially after reports of bus transport failing ten times faster than the rest of the UK.”
“The petition that Unite the Union Scotland handed into Scottish government in in 2016 is now finally being acted on in this Transport Bill, which will hopefully see local authorities with the power to start their own bus service. We can’t let this be kicked into the long grass - as activists the next stage in our campaign will be to pressure local authorities to put these powers into action for the better of our communities.”
The first debates on the Transport Bill are due to take place in Holyrood this week.