Payments to be made every four weeks, instead of quarterly
Changes to the way the Bus Services Operators Grant (BSOG) is issued in Scotland will come into effect at the start of next month.
From October the payment will be delivered every four weeks, instead of on a quarterly basis.
Transport Scotland said the change comes after approaches from a number of operators, principally smaller firms, and will allow them to better manage their finances with a more frequent payment schedule.
BSOG aims to benefit passengers by helping companies to keep their fares down. It also allows firms to operate routes which otherwise may not be financially viable, maintaining the country’s bus network.
Ahead of his speech at last week’s CPT Scotland conference in Crieff, Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “The bus network has a vital role and the Scottish Government is committed to making it an attractive option for everyone.
“By changing the way the BSOG is delivered from quarterly to every four weeks, we will help operators keep their prices down and run routes that may not make money, but provide essential transport links for certain parts of the country.
“We expect the change will be very welcome, particularly with the small firms that raised the issue with officials.
“We will continue to work with the industry and assist operators to provide the best service possible, especially with the exciting programme of events scheduled for 2014.
“The bus network will have a major part to play in the success of the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup and a second Year of Homecoming.”
Welcoming the news, Sandra Whitelaw, Managing Director of Stonehouse-based Whitelaws, said: “We welcome the change which will have a positive impact for all operators of local bus services in Scotland. This will bring BSOG payments more in line with regular outgoing costs, especially fuel bills.
“This demonstrates that Ministers and Transport Scotland have listened to the concerns of the industry and have brought in an improved system which will be a real help to operators, with both costs and grants being more in harmony with each other.”
Operators were informed of the changes to frequency of payment by letter earlier this month.