The Scottish Government has committed £500m of funding for bus priority infrastructure, continuing its programme of investment.
The Bus Partnership Fund will support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to tackle the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable – encouraging more people to travel by bus.
The Bus Partnership Fund will complement the new powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019. It will enable local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to work together to develop and deliver ambitious schemes that incorporate bus priority measures to tackle the negative impacts of congestion. In doing so, this will make bus use more attractive, increasing bus usage and patronage, which in turn leads to greater investment and better services.
Work had been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the Programme for Government published in September reaffirmed the commitment to this funding programme as a key part of Scotland’s green recovery.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m very pleased to launch our Bus Partnership Fund as part of our efforts to secure Scotland’s green recovery from COVID-19. I acknowledge the extreme pressures on local authorities and bus operators as we continue to negotiate our way through the current pandemic. However, in addition to providing emergency funding for operators right now, we are also looking to the future. We are committed to achieving a just and green recovery and I believe that supporting bus travel is key to that.
“As set out in the National Transport Strategy, the benefits of bus, particularly to addressing the climate emergency and tackling inequality, are clear. The Bus Partnership Fund is a key part of delivering on the priorities outlined in the Strategy. I believe that a strong partnership approach is essential and I want to see ambitious proposals placing bus priority at the heart of our sustainable transport future – linking with active travel alongside further action and investment from local authorities and bus operators.
“When local authorities and their partners make ambitious bids to the Bus Partnership Fund, coupled with our wider support to the sector, this will contribute to our collective vision to deliver an efficient, inclusive, cost-effective and sustainable transport system for all.”
Paul White, Director for CPT in Scotland said: “CPT welcomes the Scottish Government’s commitment to invest in improved infrastructure for buses. Congestion is the biggest issue holding back buses in our communities. Reducing journey times will make buses more attractive for customers, reduce the number of cars on our roads, improve local air quality and free up resources to deliver improved bus networks and better value fares.
“Every £1 invested in bus priority can generate up to eight times that amount in wider economic, social and environmental benefits. So, investment in buses is an investment in Scotland’s future. We are committed to working in partnership with local authorities to deliver an attractive, modern, green bus network for Scotland, and we look forward to helping maximise the impact of this fund.”
Greig MacKay, Director for Bus Users Scotland said:“Bus Users welcomes the new Bus Partnership Fund for Scotland and its focus on passengers. By reducing congestion and increasing accessibility to active travel options, we should see faster and more reliable bus services and greater passenger numbers across Scotland.”