By Lucy Ashton
West Dunbartonshire Labour Group alongside Scottish Labour councillors in the Strathclyde Public Transport area have today issued a joint statement, signalling their intention to radically transform public transport in the West of Scotland by creating a new publicly-controlled bus service, run in the interest of the people, not profit.
The statement of intent comes ahead of next year’s Scottish Local Government election. Labour councillors elected in the Strathclyde area will work towards the common goal of achieving local public control of bus services, modernising public transport and ending more than 35 years of deregulation and privatisation of bus services.
The Strathclyde area covers a population of 2.2 million and includes West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute local authority areas.
The Leaders of local authority Labour Groups in Strathclyde have agreed the statement of intent, vowing to work together to achieve a modern publicly-controlled bus network.
They maintain it is impossible for the bus network in its present form to deliver the sustainable, integrated services our communities deserve.
“We believe strong, empowered local government can transform Strathclyde’s bus services for the better,” their spokesperson said.
She added: “Labour Councils elected in West Dunbartonshire, like the rest of Strathclyde, will co-operate in the new Council term to achieve the common goal of a publicly controlled Strathclyde Bus service.
“The time has come to replace the broken bus market with a democratic alternative and guarantee better bus services for Strathclyde, run for passengers and not for profit.”
Speaking on behalf of Labour Groups in Strathclyde, East Dunbartonshire, Councillor Alan Moir said: “Labour’s local leaders will work together across Strathclyde to replace the broken bus market with an alternative that puts passengers and communities back in the driving seat.
“We believe that greater public control of public transport is essential if we are to halt the decline in bus services and meet our net zero ambitions. The Transport Act on its own will not bring the transformation passengers and communities are crying out for in the west of Scotland.
“Legislation has to be robustly backed up by the SNP-Green Government with resources for councils to help deliver our vision for better, greener bus services – making decisions about bus services accountable under greater public control. There can be no doubt there is a clear demand across local government in the West for public control of bus services.”
Scottish Labour transport spokesperson Neil Bibby MSP said: “De-regulation of bus services has completely failed the people of Scotland. Poor public transport, run in the interest of profit rather than people, has held back the potential of the nation and led to greater car use.
“This statement of intent from Labour leaders across the West makes it clear that Labour will not stand by while the people of our country are failed. The time for action has come. We will build a modern alternative to make bus services better and fit for the future.
“The Scottish Parliament gave councils the power to take control of bus services. Now it must ensure that councils willing to use those powers have the resources they need to make a modern, better, greener, publicly accountable network a reality.”