Respond to the Scottish Government's consultation on bus services, to make it clear that we want our buses taken into public ownership.
Dear Bus Regulatory Funding Team,Two of the new powers in the Transport Act 2019 offer communities across Scotland the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure the world-class bus networks we need to tackle climate change and address chronic social inequalities.
As a result of this consultation, you must ensure that these two new powers – for public ownership (Local Transport Authority Bus Services) and for public control (Local Services Franchises) of bus services are both feasible and affordable for local authorities/RTPs to fully-utilise.The Scottish Government must stop prioritising and incentivising the deeply-flawed ‘Bus Service Improvement Partnership’ model, which will do nothing but maintain the 35-year failed policy of bus deregulation and keep private companies in the driving seat.
Public control and ownership offer so much more. The chance to integrate transport networks, bring down fares, set environmental standards and increase service levels through cross-subsidy. With road transport the largest source of emissions in Scotland, a comprehensive and publicly-controlled transport network is the only way to ensure the modal shift from cars.
The success of Lothian Buses, the largest publicly-owned bus company in the UK, shows a different future is possible. These new powers mean every part of Scotland could reap the benefits of this model – but Scottish Ministers and Transport Scotland must act now and give financial and practical support to local authorities/RTPs so we can set up a new publicly-owned bus company for each region.
There can be no justification for going forward with deregulated ‘Bus Service Improvement Partnerships’, especially after former UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty & Human Rights, Philip Alston, concluded in his recent report that “partnerships are... a tried-and-failed approach that should be retired in favour of actual regulation of public transport.” ‘Bus Service Improvement Partnerships’ would just lock us into a wasteful, fragmented and unaccountable system for the long-term; with huge levels of public subsidy continuing to go into shareholders’ pockets, instead of growing and improving the public transport networks we so urgently need.
Public control and ownership are our only chance to secure social, economic and climate justice for the long-term.I look forward to your response.