I’m pleased to welcome the first ever Scottish Bus Week. Thanks to a partnership approach between Love My Bus, Paths for All, CPT Scotland and our bus operators – we now have a campaign to reflect on everything the bus sector contributes right across the country.
It is a great opportunity to celebrate the many benefits of bus to our communities and our environment.
It’s also a time to say thank you to everyone who works in the bus industry and those who helped keep Scotland moving during the pandemic. Your efforts have been hugely appreciated.
Of course, we don’t offer thanks solely for how the sector went above and beyond during COVID-19. Our buses have and will always remain one of our greatest allies in responding to the complex challenges we face – particularly on facilitating our just transition to net zero.
Whether it is improving air quality in our cities, tackling the climate emergency or providing accessible access to vital services – bus is very much at the centre of our National Transport Strategy. With more public transport trips made by bus than by any other mode bus has to be at the front of our green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Bus Week work is underway to encourage a positive shift away from private car use and towards sustainable public transport. This is why through the Programme for Government, the Scottish Government is progressing a green transport revolution with bus as a key driver of that approach.
At the heart of this is the Scottish Government’s landmark policy to give free bus travel to all under 22s in Scotland – improving life chances and offering a helping hand to our young people who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
With a new generation reconnecting with our buses, Government needs to work in partnership with local authorities and operators to make services faster and more convenient. To reduce the impact of congestion on bus services, the Scottish Government has committed to invest over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure.
Finally, the buses on our roads need to be zero-emission. Choosing bus is already a positive step for the environment compared to the car, but we want the majority of fossil fuel buses off our roads by 2023. To support this, operators large and small have already taken advantage of funding through the Scottish Government’s Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme and our Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund. Many of the buses that the Scottish Government is part funding are also being built in Scotland – helping the bus manufacturing sector while supporting skilled green jobs.
We want and need more people to choose to travel by bus.
Love My Bus from Transform Scotland will be busy this week, telling the story of how our bus industry supports Scotland’s environment, makes travel available to everyone, connects people and communities, and helps improve health and wellbeing. I hope everyone who has never travelled anywhere by bus takes the chance to do so this week – and realises how convenient, affordable, accessible, sustainable and sociable travelling by bus is. This might be the first Scottish Bus Week but hopefully it is the first of many.