Labour campaign for Scottish re-regulation launched

While Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has re-affirmed his commitment to enabling local authorities in England to run bus companies, the Scottish Labour party has also launched a new campaign to re-regulate the bus industry and accuses the SNP of “neglecting public transport and putting profits before passengers during nearly a decade in government”.

Labour claims that the SNP had supported regulating the bus industry before entering government in 2007 but had since taken no action, and also highlighted donations of more than £2million to the SNP from Stagecoach chairman Brian Souter. It quotes Transport Scotland statistics showing the number of bus journeys in Scotland fell 15 per cent between 2007/08 and 2014/15, from 488 million to 414 million.

"One of the proudest achievements of the last Labour-led Scottish government was establishing the free bus pass for pensioners, making it easier for pensioners and disabled people to get around and interact with their community,” says Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby. “But under the SNP we have seen a record of rising fare prices, plummeting passenger numbers and continued cutbacks from bus operators. The SNP have missed the bus on public transport.

"Labour would reverse the decline in bus services by re-regulating the bus industry and will launch a campaign for better bus services across Scotland. The SNP used to support this policy but dropped it just before they 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 party has not given any specific details on its policy proposals for the bus industry in Scotland although it is calling for what it terms “meaningful regulation” of bus services and points to the London tendering system as a potential model. Its report, entitled ‘The SNP have missed the bus’ states: “Communities and councils should be able to negotiate a comprehensive contract with bus companies that will ensure operators not only get to run the most profitable routes, but also have to provide vital local services as part of the overall deal. That’s how it works in London and if it’s good enough for London then it is good enough for Scotland.”