Bus rapid transit (BRT) in the three largest city regions of Scotland and an extension of existing zero-emission bus funding criteria to capture vehicles used on home-to-school services form part of 45 draft recommendations made by the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2), which the Scottish Government describes as a blueprint for future transport investment in the country.
The Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow city regions of Scotland each form part of separate recommendations that involve BRT. In Aberdeen, a bus-based rapid transit scheme for the region is advocated, while in Edinburgh and Glasgow rail-borne services form part of development considerations alongside bus. Regardless of mode, each system would bring air quality benefits and reduce journey times, STPR2 says.
Bus priority in Scotland, including on trunk roads and motorways, is also imperative, the report continues.
While acknowledging that the existing £500m Bus Partnership Fund is a suitable mechanism for the delivery of measures on local networks, STPR2 adds that work to encourage modal shift to bus “is essential” if Scotland is to meet its net zero carbon emission target. It also notes that “the need for action is urgent, as confidence in the safety of bus travel has reduced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The expansion of zero-emission fleets is also captured. While acknowledging the Scottish Government’s ambitious plan for the majority of the country’s diesel buses to have been removed from service by the end of 2023, STPR2 advocates further investment above that already announced to simulate the commercial rollout of zero-emission vehicles.
Notably, the report calls for the widening of existing funding criteria to include vehicles used for home-to-school and community transport services through a possible evolution of the Scottish Zero Emission Bus fund. If adopted, that would open grant support for the purchase of zero-emission coaches for the first time.
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson says that STPR2 supports measures already set out by the Scottish Government on its roadmap to reducing car kilometres by 20% by 2030. STPR2’s recommendations “represent a major piece of work by this Government to make all of Scotland more sustainable,” he adds.
Read the full STPR2 document here.