Bus recovery plans prevent councils taking ownership

Councils are being forced to use private bus operators if they want to access new recovery funding, the Scottish Greens have warned.

The Bus Partnership fund, first announced in September 2019’s Programme for Government, is designed to increase investment in priority bus lanes and other infrastructure, but new criteria for councils includes a requirement to use a bus partnership model.

This is despite councils being given the powers to take bus operators in-house in the transport bill last year.

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson John Finnie said: “This is welcome funding for promoting better bus services, but I am concerned that it seems councils can only apply for this money if they agree to form partnerships with private bus operators and don’t start up their own competing public bus company.

“Public transport must serve the interests of communities, not private shareholders, and the powers for councils to run their own services was well won in the Transport Bill last year. The Scottish Government should not be blocking greater democratic control of public transport and instead see it as a vital tool in the recovery – as Wales has done with its railways.”