Mon 18 Apr, 2016

As a young person from Ayrshire who studied and lived in Glasgow for a numbers of years, I have recently returned to the area that I grew up in due to my current job being in Ayrshire. Although I enjoy my time in the countryside, without running a car I find that living in a rural community has been near impossible without obtaining lifts from friends and family to get to and from work in both the local town and Glasgow – let alone visiting a shop or friends.

Fenwick is an attractive village that has in recent times experienced a development in housing due to its desirable location next to the M77, and like the outskirts of Kilmarnock it has seen a rise in population of those in retirement or commuters who both who tend to own cars. However, for those who do not have the luxury of driving and in particular young people, it is a bit of a nightmare to access transport between the number of local communities as well as being restricted to the times of the services available (many with a last service of 10pm on weekdays and limited hourly services at the weekend).

Some journeys that would take between 5-10 minutes in the car between local towns and villages can take a far greater amount of time to travel between. For instance, as shown below, the equivalent travel time of a 10 minute drive between Fenwick and Stewarton would be a 54 minute bus journey involving a detour via Kilmarnock and then back out to Stewarton. Compare this to the time to travel to Glasgow from Fenwick, it appears there is merely a 6 minute difference between both journeys.

It could be argued that services between major cities and towns are occupied by more travellers and in turn raise more revenue for private companies such as Stagecoach or Scotrail, but for those who do not own cars, do not live on a train route or cannot afford to work in the city, it really does cut off local communities that rely on these services for work and to boost local profit. Given that East Ayrshire is composed of a number of small towns that are not located next to a train line and do not receive a regular bus service, the younger population of these towns is dwindling due to a lack of jobs and ways to commute to work in the area.

This is where I believe the policies of the Scottish Greens for a Bolder Holyrood would enable smaller communities such as the towns and villages of East Ayrshire to regain power over their local services, including that of local travel services. I believe the party would allow the general public to voice their opinions on the services that matter to them and gain more control on transport including bus and train services as well as better roads and cycling routes. Patrick Harvie has proved

his dedication to this cause through running a Better Buses campaign during his time at parliament and most recently, Sarah Beattie-Smith, the lead list candidate for the South of Scotland, has proven that she is dedicated to helping those in the South to fight for much needed public services through her campaign against the cuts of bus services in Dumfries and Galloway. This proves that more Green MSPs in a Scottish Parliament would lead to a greater voice for the people of Scotland.

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