MINISTER OUTLINES SAFETY PLANS FOR SCHOOL TRANSPORT
The Scottish Government has been given approval ‘in principle’ from the UK Government to transfer the necessary powers to the Scottish Parliament in relation to school bus safety.
Once powers have been transferred, Scottish Ministers will seek to legislate to ensure that seatbelts are introduced by way of a phased roll out, giving local authorities and bus operators across Scotland time to adapt to the change.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
“I am pleased to announce the Scottish Government’s intention to legislate to ensure that seatbelts are provided for children to use whilst travelling to and from school on dedicated school transport.
“We have made this announcement today to give local authorities and bus operators time to prepare for the change and I look forward to further discussions with CoSLA next month to review the full detail of these plans and consider the financial implications.
“The Scottish Government and its road safety partners are committed to the outcome of safer road travel in Scotland for everyone. It is imperative that we do everything we can to protect Scotland’s children, ensuring they are as safe as possible as they travel to and from school.”
The powers are being transferred from Westminster to Holyrood by way of a Section 30(2) Order of the Scotland Act 1998. This allows for modifications to be made to Schedule 5 to the Scotland Act which lists those matters that are reserved to the UK Parliament, and as such defines the competence of the Scottish Parliament.
The Section 30(2) order is subject to scrutiny in the UK and Scottish Parliaments. It is currently anticipated that the process will be completed in the first half of 2015.
Since 2011 the Scottish Government has engaged with CoSLA and the Association of Transport Coordinators (ATCO) in order to source information on the costs and implications of legislating to provide seatbelts on dedicated school transport. A further meeting with CoSLA is scheduled for April.
As part of the need to gather comprehensive and detailed information on the impacts of legislating, Transport Scotland commissioned MVA Consultancy to work with local authorities to produce a report on the costs and challenges of changing specifications for school transport, together with a costing model.
After discussing and validating the findings with ATCO and CoSLA, the report was published on 18 October 2013. http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/strategy-and-research/publications-and-consultations/j292338-00.htm
It showed that in total there are approximately 2,120 dedicated school transport buses in use across the country with over 1,260 having 3‑point belts already; 280 with lap belts and around 570 having no fitted seat belts.
There are approximately 8,000 vehicles involved in transporting 120,000 pupils to schools each day in Scotland. The 800 vehicles are made up of:-
- 2,100 dedicated buses
- 800 to 1,000 general service buses,
- 2,500 taxis/private hire vehicles and
- 2,500 vehicles used to transport pupils with additional supports needs
- 250 ‘other’ vehicles
Seatbelts could be installed on dedicated school transport by 2018 at the earliest.
Contact Caroline Trainer at Press Transport Scotland on 0141 272 7195