***Re-regulation of bus services a must says Rowley***
Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Alex Rowley has said Labour will bring forward proposals for the re-regulation of bus services in Scotland as it emerged the number of bus routes registered with the Traffic Commission has fallen by 21% in the last decade.
Speaking to local press Mr Rowley said: “It’s time for the government to put passengers first and stop the decline in public transport at the hands of private operators who have no interest in providing a service unless they can make large profit from it”.
The Labour MSP’s statement comes at the same time as many bus routes across Fife and central Scotland have been dropped by bus operator Stagecoach resulting in many communities objecting and calling for a rethink on the way services are being delivered.
Mr Rowley said: “Bus companies pull out of unprofitable routes expecting local councils to pick up the costs of maintaining the services but this has become more and more difficult as council budgets are slashed. Over the last decade private companies across Scotland have been paid billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money in subsidies and, at the same time in the past five years, bus fares have increased by 18%. And yet routes are cut and people priced off the busses that do run.
“It is unacceptable that big bus companies have been hiking fares at the same time as cutting crucial routes to maximise their own profits. This cannot possibly represent value for money.
“Under the SNP government in Scotland, there has been a decade of decline in bus services across the country. The deregulated market clearly isn’t working for passengers and the status quo is not an option. Labour will relaunch our campaign for regulation of bus services in Scotland. We should be putting passengers first and fixing the broken bus market. With re-regulation and more power over routes and fares, we can get a better deal from the bus operators.
The MSP concluded: “It is about time that the politicians and the Government in Edinburgh started standing up for passengers in Scotland instead of siding with the big bus companies because if we don’t then we are going to end up with many communities having little or no services. This is bad for people but also bad for local economies and bad for all of Scotland”.