Commencement of powers in Transport (Scotland) Act.
The Scottish Government has now commenced powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act for local authorities to run their own bus services.
Section 34 of the Act essentially gives local transport authorities power to run local bus services in any way they see fit within the wider context of their obligations, which they were previously prohibited from doing under the Transport Act 1985.
This power sits alongside their existing ability to subsidise services.
As with many aspects of the Transport Act, the provisions empower local authorities with the flexible tools they need to respond to their own transport challenges.
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said:
“When the Transport (Scotland) Act was developed, local authorities asked us for flexible options to revitalise local bus networks, including running their own bus services and I am pleased that they are now being empowered to do so.
“The Act was designed to help make Scotland’s transport network cleaner, smarter and more accessible than ever before.
“By giving local authorities the flexible tools they need to respond to their own transport challenges, we can deliver a more responsive and sustainable transport system for everyone in Scotland.
“I recognise that not every local authority will want to run their own bus services – some may opt for a partnership or franchise approach.
“What’s key is that local authorities will soon have greater tools at their disposal to revitalise bus services where required.
“By investing over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure, coupled with the roll out of free bus travel to under 22s and significant investment to encourage a shift to zero emission buses, we’re responding to the climate emergency by placing buses at the front of our just transition to a net zero society – supporting our world leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.
“I would encourage all local transport authorities to consider using this power, and the full range of tools available to them under the Act, to ensure that everyone has accessible public transport regardless of where they are in Scotland.”