Colin Smyth MSP
South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called for bus fares to be capped to arrest the alarming decline of passenger numbers.
From January 1, bus fares in Scotland will be higher than in England as 130 operators in England signed up to a £2 cap on fares for the first three months of the year. This follows a similar move in Greater Manchester, delivered by Labour Mayor Andy Burnham.
Colin Smyth is urging the SNP government to follow suit and cap fares, warning that buses in his constituency are “on the brink of collapse”.
Over the last five years, fares in Scotland have already been rising twice as fast in real terms as the average across Britain, while bus usage has plummeted.
In the South West and Strathclyde, the number of bus passenger journeys dropped by a staggering 61 per cent in 2020-21, after the pandemic piled pressure on to already-fragile services.
Even before Covid, the number of bus journeys being taken in this region had dropped by 35 per cent on the SNP’s watch.
This has left the south west at risk of “more cuts and decline”.
Colin Smyth said: “The bus services people locally rely on every day are on the brink of collapse.
“In order to get people back on the buses, the SNP must follow the lead of Labour Mayors in England and cap fares to make public transport affordable once again.
“Our communities, our economy and our planet need a working bus network which is affordable and reliable.
“Bus services will face more cuts and decline unless we take serious action and provide better, cheaper buses.”