JUNE 1, 2023

By Lucy Ashton

Jackie Baillie MSP, pictured above, has demanded a cap on bus fares and action to prevent cuts to bus services in West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond.

The Dumbarton constituency MSP warned that buses locally were at risk of being cut back if we don’t act to keep fares down and prevent routes being cut.

Latest research shows that in 2021 two fifths of people in West Dunbartonshire did not agree that bus fares were good value for money – and many passengers have seen prices soar again since that point. The figure in Argyll and Bute was 15 percent.

Annual Scottish Transport Statistics have shown bus passenger numbers in the area struggling to recover from the pandemic, with the number of passenger journeys being taken in the Strathclyde and South West region, which includes Dumbarton constituency, well below pre-pandemic levels, reducing by 35 percent from 2020 until now.

This follows years of long-term decline under the SNP, which has seen bus passenger numbers in the Strathclyde and South West region drop by a staggering 58 percent, even higher than the Scottish average.

Jackie Baillie warned that buses in Scotland are struggling and slated SNP and Green MSPs for voting against Labour’s motion to protect bus services.

Ms Baillie said: “Bus networks in West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond are struggling, but the SNP-Green government is missing in action.

“If we don’t act now we will see routes across the constituency wiped out, communities cut off, local people left with no public transport options, and more cars on the road than ever.

“We urgently need to cap fares and take action to protect services, which is why Scottish Labour raised the issue in the Parliament – but the SNP and the Greens refuse to listen.

“We need to act now to end years of decline and prevent bus networks across West Dunbartonshire, Helensburgh and Lomond being decimated.”

Table 2.2b: Passenger journeys by region for local bus services (millions)

Region 2007-08 2019-20 2021-22 Change under SNP Change vs pre-pandemic

North East, Tayside and Central 68 47 31 -54% -33%
Highlands, Islands and Shetland 14 11 7 -50% -36%
South East 174 154 99 -43% -36%
South West and Strathclyde 232 149 97 -58% -35%
Scotland 487 361 234 -52% -35%


Adults who used a local bus services in the past month, percentages who did not agree that fares are good value (2021):

Local Authority Do not agree that fares are good value


Scotland 40
Aberdeen City 45
Aberdeenshire 48
Angus 39
Argyll & Bute 15
Clackmannanshire 47
Dumfries & Galloway 74
Scottish Borders 60
Shetland Islands 9
South Ayrshire 46
South Lanarkshire 34
Stirling 63
West Dunbartonshire 41
West Lothian 14

Source: Table LA14a

Confirmed bus fare increases this year:

  • First Glasgow – 9%
  • Stagecoach Highland – 12%
  • Stagecoach West of Scotland – 15%
  • Stagecoach East of Scotland – 15%

The SNP and the Greens teamed up to vote down Labour’s motion in Holyrood:

Access to Bus Services

That the Parliament believes that reliable, accessible and affordable public transport is a key lifeline service in Scotland; believes that public investment in passenger transport should deliver value for money, environmental and social benefits; notes the recent bus fare rises across the country that are hitting during a cost of living crisis; further notes that these come on the back of route cancellations across much of Scotland that are isolating communities; believes that local authorities must be fully supported, empowered and resourced in their role regarding local public transport, and calls on the Scottish Government to support the introduction of a cap on bus fares across Scotland and set out what action it will take to stop the cuts to bus services on routes across Scotland.

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