Two thirds of Scots unhappy with bus services

7 March 2018, 07:25

bus stop

Two thirds of Scots are unhappy with their local bus services, according to a new report.

The figures from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) also reveal more than half of the 4,600 surveyed believe buses are often late.

A total of 58% of respondents said they feel their local service offers poor value for money, with concerns too about safety, cleanliness and the quality of fare information.

CAS chief executive Derek Mitchell said: "Public transport is a social justice issue. People deserve a bus service that is reliable, affordable and pleasant to use, yet it is clear from this research that Scotland's buses often fail to meet these standards.

"The responses came from all parts of Scotland but there was a notably high rate from people in rural areas, where problems like bus infrequency are often more acute.

"Having gathered this data, CAS will now be meeting with bus companies, local authorities and the Scottish Government to find ways of addressing these issues.

"Our objective here is to create better journeys for the people who rely on bus services."

The Creating Better Journeys report, part of a Scotland-wide survey, also shows 16% of respondents said they do not have a bus service to the hospital or GP.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: "This is a timely report from Citizens Advice Scotland as we approach the introduction of the Transport Bill into Parliament.

"This government is continuing to spend over £250 million a year to support our vital bus industry, allowing operators to keep fares at affordable levels and provide free bus travel to older and disabled passengers.

"We also provide support to local authorities via the block grant so that they can support necessary bus services. They spent over £50 million on bus services in 2016-17.

"Additionally, the forthcoming Transport Bill will empower local authorities by providing options to improve bus services in their areas - giving them a greater choice in how to deliver a sustainable bus network for customers, be that via partnership, local franchising or even directly running their buses.

"The Transport Bill will also bring forward measures on open data to ensure that bus operators provide the information that passengers need on routes, timetables, punctuality and fares."

John Finnie MSP, the Scottish Greens' transport spokesman, said: "It's hardly surprising that so many Scots are unhappy with their local bus service given the Scottish Government's tendency to promote private car use at the expense of public transport.

"If so many people continue to be unhappy with local buses then we'll keep seeing a rapid decline in this mode of public transport."

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Mike Rumbles added: "Passengers have expressed frustrations with the frequency and reliability of services, and the government must direct resources to resolve these issues if they want to make bus journeys more appealing.

"The results of the survey also highlight the importance of reliable bus services to those in rural areas. The government must recognise that in these areas sporadic services have an even more acute effect."

Scottish Labour's Colin Smyth MSP said: "These are deeply troubling figures. Not only are SNP ministers failing to properly fund bus services but they failed to support two proposed Labour Bills to regulate our buses, sitting idly by as services were axed - and as this survey shows, it's passengers who have suffered.