Legislation to enable bus franchising to be introduced in Scotland

Photo of Transport Minister Scotland
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth

The Scottish Government is planning to use powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act to enable local authorities to run their own bus services by July, Transport Scotland has announced. There will also be secondary legislation which will enable bus franchising and partnership options that will be introduced before the end of 2023.

It follows publication of the results of a consultation to inform the development of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 which is deigned to empower local authorities in Scotland’s transport network. Work to implement the legislation was paused due to COVID-19, and recommenced in 2021.

Key themes recognised through the consultation process showed that a number of respondents, “primarily trade unions/campaigning organisations, third sector organisations, political parties and individuals” noted their opposition to Bus Service Improvement Partnerships, and voiced their support for “a return to publicly owned bus services”. Additional comments made the case for “consistency in bus service provision across Scotland”.

Says Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth (pictured): “Local authorities asked for greater powers to run their own bus services and I’m pleased the Scottish Government will now deliver this.

“As with many aspects of the Transport Act, the provisions empower local authorities with the flexible tools they need to respond to their own transport challenges. Not every local authority will want to run their own bus services – some may opt for a partnership or franchise approach. What’s key is that local authorities will soon have greater tools at their disposal to revitalise bus services where required.

“Whether it’s local authority run bus services or private operators – there are shared challenges we need to address collectively to put bus at the heart of our green recovery. This is why the Scottish Government is investing over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure. This will address the impact that congestion has on bus services, making them quicker and more attractive for passengers.

“Coupled with the expansion of free bus travel to under 22s and significant investment to encourage a shift to zero-emission buses, we’re responding to the climate emergency by placing buses at the front of our just transition to a net zero society – supporting our world leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.”