Public transport campaigners in Glasgow have asked the Scottish Government: “buyout, don’t bailout” bus operators, following the announcement of emergency financial support on 25 March 2020.
The Scottish Government announced they would cover all lost passenger fares by allowing bus companies to access the £260 million concessionary travel and Bus Service Operator Grants during the coronavirus pandemic. Get Glasgow Moving, a group of passengers, has said this huge investment shows that the government can and should step in to run buses as a public service to serve those who need it most.
Get Glasgow Moving chair Ellie Harrison said:
“This proves what we have been saying all along – that buses are an essential public service and not a cash cow for private operators. We give more than £300 million of public money to the private bus companies every year, yet they’re still allowed to pick and choose which routes they run and suck profits out of the system. Now, as the coronavirus crisis bites, they’re demanding another big bailout from government to keep themselves afloat.
We must seize this opportunity to buyout the bus companies once and for all. If our buses were publicly run then we would be saving money during a time of reduced services, instead it is costing us more. The Scottish Government should use public money to ensure the mobility of key workers now, and to protect passengers, workers and our economy in the future.”
Transport of Quality of Life have shown that returning services to public ownership saves money and delivers a better service in the long-term. For example, if all bus services in Britain (outside London) were ‘re-municipalised’ and run directly in the interests of local people and not private companies, we could save £506 million per year.
Campaign Member Colette Walker said:
“Public transport, especially buses, are vitally important for the elderly and the disabled. At this unprecedented time, their importance has really come to the forefront. The buses have enabled me to continue to attend my crucial hospital appointments, whilst maintaining the government distancing rules. Putting our needs as passengers first must continue after the crisis.”
Notes to Editor:
- In 2019, Get Glasgow Moving ran the ‘Time to Take Back Our Buses’ campaign calling on the Scottish Government to fund the public takeover of First Glasgow’s bus assets and operations after they threatened to sell up.