The context for the Fair Fares Review is an extremely challenging one.  In terms of both the changing demand for transport and funding available for transport over the medium term, as well as likely wider societal changes in the longer term. The purpose of this paper is to set out some of that context in more detail and to therefore help inform a discussion of the factors  which influenced the Review.

The paper gives a high-level overview of three major factors that decision makers must consider as part of the Review. Firstly, the wider economic context with inflation and cost of living affecting both users of transport as well as the costs of delivery. Secondly, the budgetary context with both capital and resource budgets facing severe constraints as part of Budget 2024/25 and thirdly an examination of the longer-term demographic pressures facing Scotland. Finally, it will consider some of the major changes that have been seen in transport usage since the pandemic, and some of the challenges and opportunities that these changes have created.   

This context does not diminish the ambition of the Fair Fares Review. Indeed, in many respects it makes the work of the review more essential, with the Review addressing many of the issues that are discussed in this paper. It does however provide context for why a focus on value for money as part of the Review is essential and gives an indication of the difficult challenges and constraints that have to be considered in making the recommendations.