Green MSPs in Government have been working hard to empower local councils and communities to invest in bus services and show them as an affordable, accessible and climate-friendly alternative. During this cost of living crisis, affordable public transport for all is more important than ever before. For example, Greens have already delivered free bus travel for under-22s. We have also introduced new powers for councils to develop and run their own bus companies.
However, Dumfries & Galloway Council and transport group SWestrans have decided to continue their policy of threatening to cut many lifeline bus services across Dumfries & Galloway and the South of Scotland. In 2021, the loss of the 862 bus - linking Kirkcudbright pupils to Dumfries College - put young people and their parents at a huge disadvantage. Major cuts to services on some of the most vital buses in the region have also left many people unable to make hospital appointments, attend college or travel to work.
Furthermore, the recent threats to cut the 101/102 Dumfries-Edinburgh service has shown the ruthlessness of privatised buses at its worst. For many, the 101 is one of their only transport options, especially those in rural towns and villages along the A701 and A702. Attempts to cut off rural communities from towns and cities such as Dumfries and Edinburgh without warning is reckless and harmful to those who live there.
The Scottish Greens believe that the causes of recent damaging transport decisions in Dumfries & Galloway have their roots in ineffective, profiteering, privately-run bus service providers. Dumfries & Galloway Council currently run their bus service to meet the needs of their shareholders; Greens believe that the heart of an effective public transport system should always be people, not profit.
We are calling on the new Dumfries & Galloway SNP, Labour and Independent Council Administration, as well as SWestrans and the Board of Councillors that oversees it to commit to the following:
Utilise the new powers secured by Scottish Green MSPs and bring buses back into public ownership so that public transport can be more cost-effective, people-driven and accountable.
Establish a Regional Transport Authority - with worker and passenger representation on the Board - using the powers in the 2019 Transport Act.
Work with whoever is necessary to ensure that the 101/102 services, or improved replacement, between Dumfries & Edinburgh are in place permanently.
Develop a bus users’ forum, promised in the Dumfries & Galloway Greens council manifesto, to develop community-driven, smarter timetables.
Recognise the importance of increasing affordable bus provision to reduce the use of private cars.
A greener, fairer Dumfries & Galloway must hold improved public transport at its heart. For the climate and the community, now is the time to build back better – not to cut these essential services.
If you've been affected by bus service cuts, we'd also like to hear from you directly. Please email email@example.com with your experiences, or tell us about it on our public Facebook group, www.facebook.com/groups/551851623135632/