MSPs pledge support for improved Scottish bus services

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First Bus Scotland Managing Director and Commercial Director Duncan Cameron (left) and Graeme Macfarlan (centre) with driver Selina Campbell outside the Scottish Parliament. FIRST BUS

MSPs have backed a pledge promising to advocate for policies that will prioritise measures for improving bus services across Scotland

MSPs have backed a pledge from First Bus promising to push for more policies which will prioritise measures to give Scotland better bus services. The pledge, which was signed by senior MSPs including Kenneth Gibson, Sue Webber, Graham Simpson, and Mark Ruskill at an event held outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, commits to advocating for policies that prioritise investment in bus infrastructure, which will improve bus service reliability and incentivise modal shift, and to invest in cleaner technologies, such as electric and hydrogen fuel-cell buses, and implement measures to optimise bus operations and reduce emissions.

First Bus parked one of its new electric double decker buses outside the Scottish Parliament as part of its Project 75 campaign, highlighting that one double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road. The campaign has been designed to encourage people to choose the bus more often rather than relying on their car for every journey; First says that even swapping one car journey per week to bus can have a profound impact, and also shows how making small swaps to travelling habits can help to reduce congestion and the impact on the environment.

Managing Director of First Bus Scotland Duncan Cameron said: “Bus services operate over 75% of all public transport journeys in Scotland and it’s great to see those involved in shaping Scottish Government policy backing our Project 75 campaign and the need to help take buses out of congestion. We want to provide environmentally conscious, cost-effective travel across Scotland and by increasing dedicated road infrastructure for buses, it will not only improve punctuality and reliability of our services, it will make the bus more attractive to current and potential bus users.

“The proof can be seen in Aberdeen where we provided free weekend travel on all of our services in the city thanks to savings made following the installation of new bus priority measures. The benefits of these measures can be realised quickly once they are installed and that benefit flows through to customers with faster journey times, better reliability and potentially cheaper fares.”

Paul White, Director of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Scotland added: “As First Bus’ Project 75 demonstrates, making the shift from private car to bus or coach is key to reducing congestion, and in turn reducing carbon emissions. Research commissioned by CPT shows that taking the bus instead of the car just a few times per month could have major economic, environmental and social benefits.

“To support that shift, passengers want to see improvements to journey time and reliability which can be achieved through bus priority measures, and we hope to see the Scottish Government’s flagship Bus Partnership Fund reinstated in next year’s budget to support such measures across Scotland.

“Finally, operators are increasingly investing in zero-emission technology and vehicles but there is still a long way to go to decarbonise all buses and coaches in Scotland, so we hope Government will consider funding future investment in both vehicles and the supporting infrastructure they require”.