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Scottish Parliament

Transport Bill Consultation

Following Transport Scotland’s consultations in autumn / winter 2017, the Scottish Government’s draft Transport Bill was published on 11 June 2018.

It was scrutinised by the Parliament’s Rural Economy & Connectivity (REC) Committee, who ran another public consultation in summer 2018.

Our response to this consultation (below) marked the beginning of a huge campaign to win amendments to the Transport Bill to allow everyone in Scotland to have publicly-owned buses, which included our:

Our Response

We are writing to make the Get Glasgow Moving campaign’s official submission to your consultation on the Transport Bill.

We are submitting this well in advance of your deadline, because we want to come and give evidence to the REC Committee in person in the autumn. We are all volunteers and have other work/commitments and so need plenty of time to arrange a suitable date to visit the Parliament. On this day, we also intend to bring our petition (with close to 9,000 signatures) to give to the new transport minister Michael Matheson MSP.

Despite minimal resources, the Get Glasgow Moving campaign has amassed widespread support across the city since we launched two years ago. People in Glasgow are so angry about the extortionate bus fares we pay £2.30 (especially in comparison to Edinburgh £1.70 and London £1.50) and the number of routes we’ve had cut by the private bus companies because they do not deem them ‘commercially viable’, leaving communities isolated.

Get Glasgow Moving has come together to say enough is enough, and to demand the changes in governance and the investment necessary to deliver a world-class, fully-integrated & accessible, publicly-owned, public transport network for everyone in our city.

At the end of 2016 we launched our manifesto outlining all the problems within our city’s fractured public transport network, as well as detailing the solutions based on our own ideas and examples of best practice from other parts of the UK, which we would like the REC Committee to consider. We see this Transport Bill as a vital opportunity to help us deliver our vision.

Last autumn we also submitted responses to Transport Scotland’s consultations related to the Transport Bill, which elaborate on our vision and stress the need for a holistic approach to solving all the social, environmental and economic problems resulting from our current dysfunctional transport network. Unfortunately, we do not feel the Transport Bill goes far enough to help solve these by delivering our vision for Glasgow. We therefore ask the REC Committee to also review these responses and to consider the main amendments/additions to the Transport Bill below:

1 Governance

The SNP’s 2017 manifesto for the Glasgow City Council election promised to: “establish a Transport for Glasgow body, working with transport providers and the Scottish Government to build a public transport system that matches the best other cities have to offer. We will also deliver a smart one-ticket system for travel on all public transport.” Following their election, this promise has been translated into the new Council’s Strategic Plan (p.18-19). We agree that radical reform of the governance of the Glasgow’s transport network is necessary to deliver this vision. We do not see it as essential to establish a new body, but simply to enhance the powers (and/or re-brand) our existing Local Transport Authority, SPT. We therefore ask the REC Committee to consider whether this Transport Bill makes provision for these changes of governance in order to deliver a ‘Transport for London-style’ body for our City Region, which both the new administration and our Get Glasgow Moving supporters want to see.

2 Publicly-owned Buses

SPT is currently an anomaly in Scotland because, as a former Transport Executive, it still retains the power to run non-commercial bus services. However, this is clearly not delivering what our city needs. Whilst we support extending this power to all Local Transport Authorities in Scotland, it must be to run both commercial and non-commercial routes. This amendment to the Transport Bill is essential as it will allow SPT to cross-subsidise and help fund non-profitable bus routes, and will begin to close the gap between the affordable, reliable bus services provided in Edinburgh by publicly-owned Lothian Buses and the expensive and unreliable services outside the capital.

3 Open Data

Private bus companies are meant to be providing us with a public service. 43% of their revenue comes from the public purse. We therefore demand that they are subject to the same levels of transparency and data sharing required of any of our public bodies. The Transport Bill must be amended to ensure that private bus companies share all the data necessary (passenger numbers, fare revenue, routes and running times etc.) to ensure that publicly-owned bus companies are not disadvantaged and so our Local Transport Authority can finally plan a coherent and comprehensive public transport network, which serves the needs of everyone in the City Region.

4 Smart Ticketing

As well as providing the power to quickly implement one simple multi-modal smartcard (to supersede the confusing array of other smart ‘products’ currently in use in parts of Glasgow: Saltire Card, Bramble Card, Glasgow Tripper, Zone Card etc.), the Transport Bill must include powers so that Local Transport Authorities can enforce an affordable daily price cap across all public transport within the City Region. We have already been waiting far too long for this in Glasgow.

5 Revenue-Raising Powers

It is a huge oversight that the Transport Bill does not properly consider how funds will be raised to pay for the massive improvements in public transport that we need to deliver ‘inclusive growth‘ and slash carbon emissions from the transport sector (now the highest emitter of C02 in Scotland). This can partly be achieved by allowing the cross-subsidy of bus routes described above in point 2, and also by changing the governance structure described above in point 1, so that Local Transport Authorities have power over both the ‘stick’ (Low Emission Zones/ Parking Controls etc.) and the ‘carrot’ (improved, reliable and affordable public transport) elements of the transport network like the successful Transport for London model, which is constituted to be “committed to reducing costs and reinvesting all our income to run and improve services”. However, we believe the Transport Bill must include provision for further revenue-raising powers to improve/expand public transport provision, such as the ‘Workplace Parking Levy’ (in use in Nottingham) or the ‘Versement Transport’ tax used in France and explained in Transport for Quality of Life’s ‘Fare-Free Public Transport‘ paper (this would be better as it would ensure that revenue does not decline over time as car use declines).

Finally, we would like to draw the REC Committee’s attention to the ongoing debate at the Petitions Committee following the submission of ‘PE01626: Regulation of Bus Services’, which our campaign supported in December 2016. On 19 January 2017, Ian Taylor from Transport for Quality of Life was invited to give evidence to the committee (see timecode 09:39:41-10:22:40 on Scottish Parliament TV). Their report ‘Building a World-class Bus System for Britain’ clearly demonstrates the inefficiencies caused by deregulation of the buses in the 1980s and the extent to which the present system is preventing the “cost-effective use of public money to provide the best bus services for the available resource” (p.2). We must seize the opportunity of this Transport Bill to finally undo the damage caused by the Thatcher Government’s 1986 Transport Act.

The REC Committee should carefully consider the extensive cost of providing Concessionary fares through the current privatised system, and how much this could be reduced by transitioning to publicly-owned buses run for social good. Without a ‘per journey’ fare being charged (as at present) the Concessionary fares scheme could easily be rolled out for no extra cost to more and more marginalised and socially isolated groups in society – young people, job seekers, asylum seekers etc. – as the ideal way to deliver ‘inclusive growth‘.