For most people, transport is key to their participation in work, education, family life and society in general. We need affordable, accessible public transport for all. Patchy, cancelled and late services cannot be the norm if we are to be the thriving economy and community we need.
It’s a disgrace that in 21st century our buses can’t accommodate modern life by having a buggy and a wheelchair at the same time. Or that if someone in a wheelchair travels on the same train as a bike, there’s no room for any other bike or chair. And it’s ludicrous that we’d get rid of the guard on the train when we need to support passengers, attend to incidents and keep the system running smoothly.
We need to create our transport for the convenience of passengers, supported by fairly paid staff. That means efficient, affordable and accessible services for all including more than one million people in Scotland benefitting from the bus pass.
The bus pass, brought in by Scottish Labour, has given older and disabled people like me the freedom to travel when they choose. That will only last as long as there are bus services left to use the bus pass on and buses everyone can physically get on.
It’s hard to believe that as services are cut across Scotland that public money has been siphoned off through privatisation and used to fund the rocketing earnings of directors, dividends for shareholders, and the coffers of overseas governments.
As part of our summer campaign, For the Many, Scottish Labour has set out a plan to save our lifeline bus and ferry services. It shows that there is a better way to run our transport services for the public good – not private plunder.
Scottish Labour’s Plan
1. Extending the powers to re-regulate local bus services to all areas that want them – a policy the SNP dropped before 2007 while accepting donations from bus tycoon Sir Brian Souter.
2. Creating municipal bus companies that are publicly run for passengers not for profit, based on the successful Lothian Buses model.
3. Introducing regulations to designate and protect bus routes of critical community value.
4. Keeping ferry services, such as CalMac, in public hands by not subjecting them to tender in the future.
5. Encouraging public and private sector bodies to take part in ‘active travel’ schemes to persuade workers to commute by public transport
6. Insisting the SNP keep the free bus pass for all those aged 60 and over.