More bus powers for Scottish local authorities

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New regulations could give Scottish local authorities more power to influence bus services from 4 December. RICHARD WALTER

The Scottish Government has laid regulations that enable local transport authorities to explore the bus franchising and partnership powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, giving them more options to improve bus services in their own areas. The new powers, set out in its Programme for Government, will come into effect on 4 December, and are expected to provide local transport authorities with further tools to help them revitalise bus networks according to their own needs. The measures will be followed by further substantive regulations which will give the powers full effect at a later date, and enable local transport authorities to work with operators to improve the quality and efficiency of local services through a Bus Services Improvement Partnership or to develop a franchising framework, where the authority sets out the services to be provided and standards to be met within an area, contracting bus operators to run them.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said: “We know how important bus services are and we are committed, in conjunction with operators and local authorities, to improving services to ensure everyone has accessible public transport regardless of where they live.

“The Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 was designed to give local transport authorities more flexibility to respond to their own transport challenges, empowering them to help us make Scotland’s transport network cleaner, smarter and more accessible than ever before. That is why I am pleased to have laid these regulations to give authorities access to the remaining bus powers within the Act.

“Buses have a key part to play in cutting emissions in transport and contributing to our world-leading climate change ambitions, which this government is supporting by investing in bus priority infrastructure and encouraging a shift to zero emission buses, as well as offering the most generous concessionary travel scheme in the UK.

“Working in collaboration with local authorities and bus operators is crucial to achieving these goals and creating a lasting legacy for the future.”