County MSP Iain Gray has announced an extension of the consultation period on his Bus Regulation Bill proposal – taking the date for responses to October 11 as opposed to August 30.
Mr Gray conducted a series of meetings on the bill over the summer, and said there is growing interest and support for it.
The members’ bill aims to give transport authorities greater power over how bus services are run, including a new franchising power to tender contracts for profitable and non-profitable routes together, without seeking ministers’ consent or having to demonstrate market failure.
It proposes a power for the Traffic Commissioner to penalise operators where franchise agreements are broken.
The Labour politician said: “I speak with many constituents who are rightly angry when local bus services are cut, but feel powerless when councils tell them it’s down to a commercial decision by the operator.
“Following recent bad experiences with bus services here in East Lothian, and several other areas across Scotland, I believe the time is right for this proposal.
“My bill aims to give more power to local transport authorities, by giving them a greater say in how services are delivered in their area beyond the most basic terms.
“There is a growing awareness that there are five times as many bus journeys as rail in Scotland, yet rail gets more attention and more public funding.
“I believe there is support in Parliament for this proposal to be debated, and I look forward to the responses to my consultation contributing to that debate.”
The Bill is unlikely to receive the support of North Ayrshire Council, due to concerns about cost, according to The Irvine Times. This is despite 36% of people in the area not owning a car, resulting in a higher dependence on public transport.