Big drop in bus use in Scotland

Written by Tom Freeman on 23 February 2017 in News

Dramatic decline in bus use in Scotland alongside increased subsidy and rising fares, while the number of car journeys rise

Glasgow bus - Chris DiGiamo

The number of bus journeys in Scotland has dropped dramatically.

New figures from Transport Scotland have revealed the number of passenger journeys on bus services in Scotland has fallen by 80m in the last decade.

The agency expressed concern after 409m bus trips were made in Scotland last year, down from 487m in 2007/8.


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Meanwhile the use of trains has increased by around a third.

Despite the decline, bus travel still accounts for 76 per cent of all public transport journeys.

It is thought fares have increased by around 19 per cent, while public subsidy for bus companies in Scotland went up £7.65m between 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Scottish Labour said the stats showed the need for bus regulation.

The party's transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “Under the Nationalists, vital services have been cut while ticket prices have gone up. Communities have been left stranded as key routes have been scrapped.

“Not only have services declined, but taxpayers are getting a raw deal too. The SNP is failing to get people to travel more sustainably.

“Labour has a plan to fix our broken bus market by re-regulating the industry.

“The SNP used to support this policy but dropped it just before it formed a government in 2007. As a consequence, passengers across Scotland have had to endure almost a full decade of deterioration in valued and vital bus services.”

The stats also revealed car traffic is estimated to have increased slightly over the year to 34.7 billion vehicle kilometres, while bicycle traffic is estimated to have decreased by 7 per cent to 342 million vehicle kilometres.

The Scottish Greens said this showed the Scottish Government had prioritised car use over public transport.

Transport spokesman John Finnie said: "Perhaps it’s little wonder that there has been a steady decline in bus use throughout Scotland, given how many of us have come to expect long waits for delayed and non-existent buses and how poorly services here compare with other cities in the UK and Europe. The re-regulation of buses would stop companies cherry-picking profitable routes and leaving communities stranded.

“The rise in car use, particularly for journeys to work, illustrates how unlikely the Scottish Government is to reach the target of 10 per cent of all journeys by bike by 2020. Our communities desperately need safe streets for walking and cycling, an ambition that can be supported by making 20mph the default speed limit in residential areas.”

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