Progress since 2022

The National Transport Strategy sets out the vision and priorities for Scotland’s transport system for the next 20 years, and this Delivery Plan highlights the new projects and policies being developed by the Scottish Government. However, the vast majority of our activities and finances are focused on maintaining and operating our existing transport system that all of us use every day, whether it be to travel to work, visit family and friends, access services, run our businesses, or get our goods delivered.

Since publishing our second Delivery Plan (for 2022 to 2023) last summer, Scotland has continued to face many challenges across society and business including the cost of living crisis, residual impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and record levels of inflation. But, as demonstrated within the third Plan, there is real and tangible progress underway to meeting the Strategy’s priorities.

A number of key projects have been completed over the past year. Following the transfer of ScotRail into public ownership in 2022, we transferred Caledonian Sleeper services into public control and ownership on 25 June 2023. And, as part of our wider £42 million investment in Scotland’s Railway, we opened the new Inverness Airport railway station in February 2023 and we continue our rolling programme of rail electrification with Barrhead route electrification and station improvement works going live this December and work on East Kilbride Enhancement Project already commenced. On accessibility, footbridges and lifts have been installed at Croy and Johnstone railway stations, making both stations fully accessible through the provision of step-free access benefitting many current and future passengers. 

On active and sustainable travel, we are implementing our Active Travel Transformation Project to help realise our commitment to prioritise walking, wheeling and cycling as part of the Sustainable Travel Hierarchy.

Tackling poverty is one of three critical and interdependent missions for the Scottish Government – alongside our focus on the economy and strengthening public services – and we are committed to meet our statutory targets through our Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan (2022 to 2026), ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’

With over two million people - including all children and young people under 22, eligible disabled people and everyone aged 60 and over – eligible to benefit from free bus travel, Scotland has the most comprehensive concessionary travel scheme in the UK. As of end October 2023, over 98 million journeys have been made through the Young Persons Free Bus Travel scheme since its launch in January 2022 and we are currently undertaking an evaluation of the scheme. This has been a truly transformational policy – changing lives and making a difference during tough times.

Through working in partnership with select partner organisations to deliver activities targeting a range of communities and underrepresented groups, continued investment in access to bikes and safe infrastructure plays a key part in the Fairer Scotland Duty to consider how to reduce inequalities of outcome and support a truly holistic transportation system where opportunities are available for all to have access to a cycle, regardless of income, location or mobility. We have funded various initiatives to help provide free and affordable bikes to people who need them, including Cycling UK’s Access Bikes Project, the Shifting Gears Project, the Wee Bikes Programme; and to Scottish Cycling with grant funding to deliver the Rock Up and Ride programme. In January 2023, we published our evaluation of the free bikes pilots for school aged children who cannot afford them.

We continue to support the delivery of publicly funded lifeline ferry services in cases where essential connectivity cannot be met by the normal operation of the market, through the management of Clyde & Hebrides and Northern Isles contracts. We also support air connectivity in a number of ways including by funding Highlands and Islands Airports Limited and supporting lifeline routes that are not commercially viable.

And our research work to explore women’s and girls’ views and experiences of personal safety when using public transport in Scotland was published in March 2023, outlining ten recommendations to address safety issues. This research featured at the European Transport Conference in Milan, was runner up in the UK Government Social Research annual awards and has been nominated for the Civil Service Awards, all in 2023.

The Scottish Government is committed to reducing our impact on the environment and meeting net zero emissions across our corporate functions. On 31 March 2023, Transport Scotland published the fourth edition of the Carbon Management Plan (2022-27), setting out how we will meet net zero across our corporate activities, and how we will challenge the way in which emissions are managed throughout our supply chain.

Engagement and Partnership Working

A key feature of the National Transport Strategy is that it was produced collaboratively with a wide range of partners and sectors during its development. We continue to engage with our stakeholders to oversee the implementation of actions to deliver the vision, including through the NTS Delivery Board, which is co-chaired by the Minister for Transport and COSLA. 

We engage with a range of organisations on equality issues including Disability Equality Scotland and the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland. 

In July, the First Minister endorsed the recommendations of the New Deal for Business Group which includes collaborative working between the Scottish Government and partners to properly capture a wide range of business voices in the development of particular policies and to develop the definition of the Wellbeing Economy. We continue to liaise with the business sector through the NTS Business Group.

A working group has been convened to take forward the development of a Rural Delivery Plan by 2026, reflecting a proactive effort across all Scottish Government policy areas – from transport, housing, digital infrastructure to agriculture, land reform and marine policy – to support opportunities for our rural, island and rural coastal communities. 

This Delivery Plan focuses on the activities of Scottish Government, however this is a strategy for all of Scotland, with collaboration and partnership working integral to its success. Scotland’s transport operators and local government are all involved in activities to support the strategy. Scotland’s Regional Transport Partnerships are continuing to develop their regional transport strategies, which align with our national vision and priorities and provide a detailed overview of their priorities and actions. This year to date, Nestrans, SEStran and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) have published their Regional Transport Strategies.

Monitoring and Evaluation

We published our Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy in August 2021, establishing that our approach to reporting on the performance of the National Transport Strategy over the short, medium and long term is to routinely monitor and report on progress towards its outcomes, at a national, regional and local level. We continue to evaluate a number of indicators that span the four priorities, including:

  • transport emissions
  • barriers to using public transport
  • proportion of short journeys made by active travel
  • road safety
  • perceptions of travelling safety by public and active travel modes

The Monitoring and Evaluation 2019 Baseline Report was published in May 2022. Indicators are broken down and analysed by demographic and geographic variables where possible to demonstrate how experiences of transport vary across society and to ensure that interventions are measured in terms of their impact on all people in Scotland.

The report collates and summarises the data underpinning the primary and secondary indicators (where data is available) to establish a baseline against which progress can be monitored. In most cases, this involves an analysis of data from 2019 to provide a suitable ‘pre-pandemic’ baseline.

Though we have continued to collect and publish transport and travel data through our annual official statistical publications, it has not been possible to accurately report on the performance of the Strategy on an annual basis. This is primarily due to our data collection methods being affected by the pandemic and comparisons between the baseline position and travel in 2020 and 2021 not being robust due to the profound impact that the pandemic had on travel behaviour over this period.

The first report setting out what progress has been made will be produced in 2024. The update will primarily provide analysis on the performance of the Strategy against headline indicators, utilising data gathered in 2020, 2021 and 2022, qualitative case studies from our stakeholder groups and transport partners and data from additional sources.

This will be a comprehensive report, focusing on a wider set of data, to provide an overview of the Strategy’s performance to date against the outcomes and vision it has set out to achieve. The three-yearly evaluation report will enable us to present a more assessment of the Strategy, drawing on data that reflects transport and travel behaviours both during and crucially, post-pandemic.

We will feed existing targets and strategic objectives into the overall performance monitoring, such as achieving net zero by 2045 and our road safety targets, and we will show the links between the Strategy and the National Performance Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.