Three new bus partnerships established
The Scottish Government has allocated over £800,000 in funding to support three bus partnerships in bringing forward improvements to bus services in their local area.
The Argyll and Bute Bus Partnership, Midlothian Bus Alliance and West Lothian Bus Alliance now join eight other partnerships involving 28 local authorities across Scotland.
Supported through the Bus Partnership Fund, local authorities and bus operators are joining forces to implement bus priority measures. These could be bus lanes, guided busways and traffic light prioritisation – all designed to make services quicker, more reliable and more attractive as an alternative to the car.
The funding from government for bus priority infrastructure comes with the expectation that investment is also made by partners to make bus travel more attractive to the public. This could involve ticket offers, investment in fleets or parking restrictions that helps improve the overall bus offer in that area.
Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth said:
“I’m pleased that these three new bus partnerships are making plans to improve bus services and have won funding through our flagship Bus Partnership Fund.
“We’ve invested heavily to keep buses running during the pandemic – but we need to go further to put buses at the heart of our green recovery, helping to tackle inequalities and to keep Scotland moving.
“We’re incentivising bus travel through the provision of free bus travel to under 22s. We’re also supporting bus operators transition to modern zero emission vehicles. The next step is to unshackle our buses from the congestion on our roads and provide those quicker, more reliable journeys that will ensure more people make the choice of bus over the car.
“Our action on concessionary travel and on bus decarbonisation – underpinned by over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure, will support communities, businesses and our environment by ensuring that taking the bus is one of the best ways to travel.”
The 2021 Programme for Government reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to providing over £500 milllion long-term investment to deliver targeted bus priority measures on local and trunk roads.
The Bus Partnership Fund complements the powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, enabling local transport authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to work together to develop and deliver ambitious bus priority schemes to tackle the negative impacts of congestion on bus services.
The Fund is guided by the evidence on how bus services will be improved by addressing congestion, but the expectation is that the Fund will leverage other bus service improvements making bus a more attractive option to many which will in turn help tackle the climate emergency, reduce private car use and support modal shift – supporting the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce car kilometres travelled by 20% by 2030.
This initial funding of £25.80 million to the 11 partnerships is for quick wins and appraisal work to support local transport authorities towards developing business cases which will detail how the investment will achieve strategic objectives; at both the national and local levels.
The aim is for the Fund to make a real difference, supported by match in kind action and investment. Further funding will be released after scrutiny against the Fund criteria is satisfied.
Quick wins include plans to make permanent some of the temporary infrastructure brought forward through the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund subject to due process.