Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee backs general principles of transport bill

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 7 March 2019 in News

But MSPs called for greater clarity on how some of the measures will operate in practice, while expressing concern over its potential financial impact on local authorities

Image credit: Press Association

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has endorsed the general principles of the Transport (Scotland) Bill in its stage one report.

The bill includes plans to create Low Emission Zones (LEZs), new options for more flexibility in the provision of bus services, smart ticketing, a ban on pavement and double parking, provisions on road works, the financing of regional transport partnerships and changes to the governance of Scotland’s canals.

But while the MSPs recommended the bill to parliament, they also called for greater clarity on how some of the measures will operate in practice, while expressing concern over its potential financial impact on local authorities.

In examining the bill, the committee found there would need to be improvements in public transport provision and park and ride facilities for LEZs to be a success, while it also urged the Scottish Government to set a national minimum technical emissions standard for vehicles entering a LEZ.

The committee also warned the measures on bus service provision proposed in the bill may not be sufficient to address the underlying causes of falling bus use, and that the measures aimed at allowing councils to run their own bus services may not deliver the desired policy outcome, given few local authorities are likely to have the financial resources to take advantage of the options set out in the bill.

Calling on ministers to bring forward proposals for the development of a single ticket scheme operating across all modes and operators, the MSPs warned that as things stand “an opportunity has been missed to deliver a meaningful step change in integrated public transport provision in Scotland”.

The committee also called for clarity on the exemptions that will apply to its proposals on parking, as well for the 20-minute exemption for deliveries and loading to be removed from the bill.

Committee convener Edward Mountain said: “Having listened to a wide-range of evidence from stakeholders and individuals, the committee supports the general principles of the bill which considers a number of different transport elements, including smart ticketing, Low Emission Zones, pavement parking restrictions and tools intended to help improve bus services.

“However, greater clarity is required on a number of issues as the bill continues its parliamentary passage.”

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