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Regional Transport Strategy

Tell SPT to seize new transport powers

Complete the survey before 11 June

Our regional transport authority, SPT is consulting on the new Regional Transport Strategy, which could decide the direction of our public transport network for the next decade.

SPT has been gradually stripped of its powers (since it was established, as SPTE, in 1973) and has been chronically underfunded by the Scottish Government. It’s no wonder our public transport is so shambolic and overpriced.

But now finally there is a chance for change! New powers in the Transport Act 2019 offer to significantly re-empower SPT, and provide new revenue streams to re-invest in improving and expanding our public transport network.

It is therefore essential that SPT seizes these powers, making them central to the new Regional Transport Strategy. This is the only way it can deliver the world-class, fully-integrated and affordable public transport that our region urgently needs. This means SPT must commit to:

  • Re-regulating the existing private bus companies (as Manchester has just done) to ensure affordable fares and planned and coordinated services which connect seamlessly with our Subway and trains.
  • Setting up a new publicly-owned bus company for our region to start taking over routes, and providing us with the same great service as Edinburgh’s Lothian Buses (a single on publicly-owned Lothian is £1.80, on privatised First Glasgow it’s £2.50).
  • Implementing Low Emission Zones / Workplace Park Levies at a regional level and ring-fencing revenue to pay for expanding and improving the public transport network (Nottingham used the Workplace Parking Levy to help build its world-class tram network).

Given the news that ScotRail will be brought back into public ownership from April 2022, SPT must also aim to take back control of all our region’s suburban railways lines, to integrate timetables and ticketing with the Subway and our re-regulated bus network.

Please take some time before midnight on Friday 11 June 2021 to read SPT’s ‘Case for Change‘ document a complete the survey online. See below for some tips and pay particular attention to Question 28 where you can drive home the importance of SPT utilising these new powers!

Take the Survey

If you miss the deadline, don’t worry – you can still email your comments directly to: rts@spt.co.uk

Suggested Responses

The first few questions are simple, just completing personal information about where you live etc. Then…

Question 7-8. RTS Vision

We want to see the cost and lack of integration of our public transport network, explicitly referred to in the ‘Vision’. We recommend it is edited to include:

“… facilitated by a high quality, fully-integrated and affordable sustainable transport system which meets the needs of all.”

Questions 9-11. RTS Targets

We strongly agree with the ‘Targets’, however it is essential SPT make clear how this will be measured. It’s not enough just to say we want ‘A reduction in roads transport emissions’ – this needs to be a significant reduction to get us to net zero by 2030, matched with a significant increase in public transport use. These targets must relate to, and be measurable against, the IPCC report showing the action necessary to meet the Paris Agreement.

Questions 12-23. RTS Key Issues

We generally agree with all the ‘Key Issues’ identified in the RTS. We suggest you answer ‘High’ or ‘Medium’ to all five of them, with a particular emphasis on the last one: ‘Public Transport Quality And Integration’.

In Question 21, you can explain that: to reduce car miles and transport emissions to the extent that is necessary before 2030, we must urgently transform our public transport to deliver a world-class, fully-integrated, reliable and affordable network, which is significantly cheaper than driving.
This can only be achieved by seizing the powers in the Transport Act 2019 to re-regulate the bus network through a regional franchising framework, so that all services are planned and coordinated by SPT to integrate seamlessly with Subway and trains. This is what Manchester is doing, and many other city-regions in England. We expect nothing less of SPT.

In Questions 22-23, we suggest that you recommend that they add another specific ‘Key Issue’ around the cost of public transport, because this is identified as the biggest barrier to people using buses, and public transport in general. The RTS should therefore include the ambition to transition to a public transport system that is free to use, like many other forward-thinking towns and cities across the world. This is arguably the only way to achieve ‘modal shift’ on the scale that is necessary to meet our carbon reduction targets in just 10 years.

Questions 24-25. RTS Objectives

We generally agree with the ‘Objectives’ of the RTS, particularly the final one: ‘To make public transport a desirable travel choice for residents and visitors’. Public transport will only be made ‘desirable’ if it is reliable, efficient and easy to use, by integrating seamlessly with other transport modes – and made significantly cheaper.

Questions 26-28. RTS Options

For Question 26-27, we think it is a massive oversight of the RTS not to consider the opportunity presented by ScotRail being taken back into public ownership from April 2022. SPT must aim to take back control of all our region’s suburban railways lines, so that it can properly integrate timetables and ticketing with the Subway and a re-regulated bus network. This is what Transport for London has been able to achieve, by taking over more rail services as TfL Rail.

Question 28 is arguably the most important of the whole survey. We suggest you use it to drive home the importance of SPT utilising the new powers in the Transport Act 2019.

The most important of all the ‘Options’ listed is 56: Governance – utilising the new powers in the Transport Act 2019. Without any new transport legislation being passed in the next few years, these power provide the only real opportunity to deliver the world-class, fully-integrated and affordable service that we urgently need. This means SPT must commit to:

  • Re-regulating the existing private bus companies (as Manchester has just done) to ensure affordable fares and planned and coordinated services which connect seamlessly with our Subway and trains.
  • Setting up a new publicly-owned bus company for our region to start taking over routes, and providing us with the same great service as Edinburgh’s Lothian Buses (a single on publicly-owned Lothian is £1.80, on privatised First Glasgow it’s £2.50).
  • Implementing Low Emission Zones / Workplace Park Levies at a regional level and ring-fencing revenue to pay for expanding and improving the public transport network (Nottingham used the Workplace Parking Levy to help build its world-class tram network).

The RTS must therefore not present the powers in the Transport Act 2019 as one of a long-list of ‘Options’, but instead use them as the foundation on which the ‘Targets’, ‘Objectives’ and many of the other options can be delivered. In relation to the ‘Bus’ options, utilising these powers will mean that SPT no longer needs to stand on the sidelines and politely try to ‘influence’ private bus companies to improve services. It can enforce these improvements (like a transport authority should) and, most importantly, regulate and reduce fares.

Take the Survey

If you miss the deadline, don’t worry – you can still email your comments directly to: rts@spt.co.uk