Reduces Inequalities

Graphic explaining how we're reducing inequalities, as described below

An accessible and easy to use transport system is vital to achieving our goal of creating an inclusive, equitable and just society. The actions we are taking demonstrate our commitment to improving the usability and, crucially in these times, the affordability of transport services.

Will provide fair access to services we need

  • We are pursuing a new multi-annual approach to the Accessible Travel Framework Delivery Plan, following completion of an evaluation project by Disability Equality Scotland. This evaluation is drawing to a close and the final report is expected to be published in the coming year, ahead of publication of the third Accessible Travel Delivery Plan. Implementation of this Plan will continue to the end of the current Framework in 2026.
  • The £116 million Levenmouth Rail project is progressing well and is on schedule to enter into service in Spring 2024. This project will deliver opportunities for the local community - unlocking access to education, culture, entertainment and employment, as well attracting new business and investment. The railway forms part of a multi-modal transport system (rail, bus and active travel) that will improve connectivity in the Levenmouth area. This includes re-opening the railway line to Levenmouth, modern accessible stations at Cameron Bridge and Leven, with passenger services starting from Spring 2024. The project will complete preparatory work to enable future electrification as part of wider ambitions to decarbonise Scotland’s Railway.
  • We will open the new East Linton station into service in December 2023, connecting the community to the rail network for the first time in 60 years. Improved access to public transport from East Linton will enable sustainable travel to and from the significant housing and employment growth taking place in the area, as well as creating new opportunities for tourism and leisure travel.
  • For 2023-24, £421.8 million has been allocated in funding for bus services and concessionary fares, as well as investment in bus priority infrastructure through the Bus Partnership Fund. In September 2023, we introduced a Community Bus Fund to support local transport authorities to explore the options in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, and to improve public transport in rural deprived areas. Through our concessionary travel scheme up to half of the Scottish population is now eligible for free bus travel. To date, the Bus Partnership Fund has already delivered bus lane cameras and traffic light equipment to help buses to travel more efficiently in Glasgow, Ayrshire and Inverness; bus prioritisation in Aberdeen City Centre; and, making a number of permanent temporary measures in Fife and Edinburgh.

Will be easy to use for all

  • High-quality journey information services are essential to enable people to confidently use the public transport network and encourage modal shift. We awarded our contract in March 2023 and we are working with our supplier to implement our digital travel data services project in 2024-25. This work will upgrade the travel data available to people in Scotland to plan their journeys on public transport, providing information not just on routes, fares and timetables but accessibility, active and alternative travel modes, and carbon footprints.
  • We continue to work towards delivering accessibility improvements, by providing step-free access at Pitlochry, Aviemore, Kingussie & Nairn railway stations, with the installation of new footbridges and lifts. Listed Building Consents, recently granted with conditions, for both Kingussie and Nairn stations are currently being reviewed in an effort to identify a route to progression.
  • Transport Scotland continues to work closely with Network Rail in the aim of delivering step-free access at Carstairs railway station in as short a timeframe as possible. Whilst the initial option selected became undeliverable due to the current market conditions and its impact on cost and availability of materials, a further option has been identified and is continuing to be developed along with a delivery programme.
  • Transport Scotland also works with Network Rail, ScotRail and stakeholders to develop nominations and options for the UK Government Access for All scheme. Through this step-free access was delivered at Croy and Johnstone railway stations in October 2022, Port Glasgow will be delivered by December 2023 and Uddingston, Dumfries & Anniesland will be delivered between March 2024 to June 2024.

Will be affordable for all

  • We are working on our Fair Fares Review which will ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares, making our public transport system more accessible, available, and affordable, with the costs of transport more fairly shared across government, business and society. The Review, which will report by the end of 2023, will recommend a package of measures which can be considered for implementation from 2024-25 and beyond. In addition, actions required to address the medium and longer-term issues for the cost and availability of public transport will also be taken forward in 2024.
  • We know that there is much to be done in encouraging people back to rail if we are to achieve our net zero targets. The Scotrail Peak Fares Removal Pilot will operate between 2 October 2023 and 29 March 2024, making ticketing simpler with all off-peak fares and products that are set and controlled by ScotRail valid for travel all day, helping to encourage modal shift and make rail travel more affordable and accessible. We will carefully consider the impact of the pilot and the long-term sustainability of such a proposition before committing to any reinstatement of the pilot after 29 March 2024.
  • We are acutely aware of the particular challenges faced by our island communities, where the ongoing cost of living impacts are arguably more challenging. Ticket prices on the Northern Isles and Clyde & Hebrides ferry networksare being held at current levels, from October 2023 until the end of March 2024, to help people and businesses from Scotland’s remote rural and island communities.
  • Ferry fares policy is being reviewed as part of our wider Fair Fares Review. We are considering a range of initiatives that will help contribute to the Review’s principle of ensuring a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares in the future.
  • The ferry scheme for young people, which offers four free single (two return) ferry journeys a year to the mainland, will be extended to all island residents under the age of 22. At present the scheme covers 16 to 18 year olds and eligible full time volunteers up to the age of 26. More people will be able to access ferry vouchers as a result of this change.
  • Work is underway to evaluate and monitor the Young Persons’ Free Bus Travel Scheme, which was launched in January 2022. With over 98 million free bus journeys made by people aged under 22 across Scotland, this landmark policy is already helping young people and families with children cut costs for everyday and leisure travel, while at the same time protecting our climate. We are undertaking evaluation of the scheme during the first five years of its operation, to assess whether the scheme is achieving its objectives and benefits and to monitor any potential negative impacts on other policy aims and other modes of transport. Fieldwork took place between April and August 2023 and a research analysis report will be published later this year. Preparatory work will take place in late 2024 to plan the next stage of the evaluation, which will take place in 2025, three years after the scheme launched.

£2 million will be made available in next year’s budget to progress free bus travel for people seeking asylum in Scotland. Around a third of people seeking asylum in Scotland are thought to already be eligible for the existing National Concessionary Travel Schemes through age or disability criteria. Work will continue to progress with establishing the most appropriate way to extend this to all people seeking asylum.