Cost of bus travel varies greatly across Scotland, Citizens Advice Scotland report finds

Written by Jenni Davidson on 16 June 2016 in News

Bus fares vary from 7p to £1.80 a mile across Scotland, according to new research by Citizens Advice Scotland

Glasgow bus by Chris DiGiamo via Flickr

Bus fares across Scotland vary from as little as 7p a mile to as much as £1.80 a mile, according to new research by Citizens Advice Scotland.  

The consumer organisation’s ‘Round the Bend’ report is the biggest piece of research ever carried out into Scotland’s bus network.

It found that in some areas bus journeys can cost jobseekers up to 15 per cent of their income for one return journey to their nearest jobcentre, with the average cost of the journey £9 in rural areas.

For someone working on full time minimum wage a round trip by bus to the local supermarket could cost five per cent of their weekly income, it discovered.

It also found that local authority subsidies to bus services last year ranged widely, from £108 per adult in the Western Isles to as low as 55p in Aberdeen City in 2015.

The average subsidy across Scotland was £10.67 per head, with mainly rural local authority areas spending more on average and urban areas tending to spend less.

The lowest, Aberdeen City, spent only £109,000 for a population of 198,000 in 2015, while the highest, Western Isles, put in nearly £2.5m for a population of only £23,000.


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Around 420 million bus journeys are made each year in Scotland, covering over 330 million kilometres, with around one in ten people using the bus to travel to work on a daily basis.

However, in 38 per cent of locations surveyed there was no Sunday service to the local hospital and residents of rural areas were on average five miles from the nearest GP surgery.

It also found that those in rural areas faced an average 40 minute round trip to the nearest bank branch, while college students in remote areas had an average journey time of over an hour at a cost of £10 return.

Citizens Advice Scotland consumer spokesman Fraser Sutherland said: “Scotland’s bus network plays a vital role in keeping its citizens moving and accessing essential services every day.

“However, with this report we have highlighted specific examples of where access to services can be difficult due to long distances, sparse timetables and expensive ticket prices.

“For many in Scotland’s cities and large towns bus connections can be frequent and relatively affordable, while in more rural parts of Scotland we have found communities that contend with twice-daily services that can cost a substantial proportion of weekly income to make necessary journeys.

“For example, those in the remote and rural areas we surveyed paid an average price of over £9 for a return journey to the nearest job centre.

“While some jobseekers and others can receive a discount on tickets this still represents a significant cost for those already struggling to make ends meet on a low income.

“One of the main concerns in our research is that many people in these areas found it difficult to get regular bus services to important services like healthcare, post offices, banks and further education.”

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