The Scottish Government has an opportunity with the forthcoming Transport Bill to re-regulate buses and ensure that services are affordable and accessible to everyone.Ross Greer MSP
Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP for the West of Scotland, will this week (Wed 31 Jan) lead a Holyrood debate calling for the re-regulation of bus services to protect customers from ongoing price hikes which he says are making public transport unaffordable and inaccessible.
Greer has criticised bus companies First Group and McGill’s for recent fare hikes which impact people on low incomes, students and children.
First Glasgow has increased fares by more than 10 per cent on some tickets and scrapped unaccompanied child fares.
McGill's have stopped their student all-day tickets, meaning those travelling up to three days a week between most of Renfrewshire and Glasgow will see their costs rise by almost £5 a week.
“These latest price hikes, on top of cancelled and reduced services, show just how unaffordable and inaccessible buses are becoming. This is not a luxury – public transport is a public service and should not be run for the sake of maximising the profits of a few private companies.
"McGill's money-grabbing decision to penalise students across the West of Scotland is an outrage, given how reliant many students are on buses to get them to college, university or part-time jobs.
"The Scottish Government has an opportunity with the forthcoming Transport Bill to re-regulate buses and ensure that services are affordable and accessible to everyone. I look forward to the Transport Minister's response at the end of my debate on Wednesday."
Ross's motion, to be debated on Wednesday at 5pm, is:
That the Parliament is concerned by reported rises in bus fares by First Bus, particularly in Glasgow and the West Scotland region; understands that fares for under-16s have risen by 40% and that single adult fares have increased by a further 15%; further understands that unaccompanied child fares have been withdrawn entirely following a move in 2017 to no longer offer return fares; considers that changes to fare structures that favour smartphone app-based ticketing will impact on those less likely to own a smartphone; expresses concern that fare rises will, it believes, also have a considerable negative impact on families, young people and low-earners; notes that several bus routes in Glasgow and the West Scotland region have been withdrawn or reduced, including the 4A service, with, it considers, little to no consultation with local residents, and notes the calls on the Scottish Government to reregulate buses to ensure that services are affordable, environmentally sustainable and accessible to all members of society.
A further motion on the McGill’s fare hike reads as follows:
That the Parliament notes with concern the withdrawal by McGill’s buses of student day tickets as part of a number of changes to fares brought in on 22 January 2018; understands that this means that many students who use day tickets will have to pay 50% more for a full adult price; believes that good and affordable bus services are a key lifeline to many students, particularly in communities such as Renfrew, which have no rail links; understands that high transport costs are often a major contributing factor to students being unable to continue their studies; endorses the reported campaign by the area's Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament to reverse these changes, and calls on McGill’s to reinstate the student day ticket.