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 West and Strathclyde||232||149||97||-58%||-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
|Argyll & Bute||15|
|Dumfries & Galloway||74|
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.