We’re living in a global climate emergency – where we all need to go faster and further than ever before to limit the impacts of climate change on our society. COP26 is the world’s best chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To meet Scotland’s world leading climate targets we’re committed to reduce the amount of car kilometres travelled by 20% by 2030. A vibrant bus offer network is critical to achieving that.
Just as bus was at the heart of our second National Transport Strategy published in early 2020 – I’m clear that bus remains at the heart of Scotland’s green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
And so it’s a real pleasure to contribute a blog post for #LoveMyBus, who share this vision, and who are working hard every day to communicate the many benefits of bus for our communities and our environment.
We must never lose sight of the fact that bus can be our greatest ally in our just transition to net zero – delivering on a range of outcomes ranging from environmental to economic, from social equality and to improved health outcomes.
But we need people to choose bus – and we need to support people in making that positive choice. To do so, the Scottish Government is helping make bus more attractive by providing over £500 million in long term funding to support bus priority infrastructure. This will tackle the negative impacts of congestion, making journeys faster and more reliable to make bus a more attractive choice than the car. More than this, the funding is leveraging further action and investment from local transport authorities and operators to improve bus services.
Coupled with improved services, we then need to inspire a new generation of people to connect and become advocates for our buses. Subject to parliamentary approval, I’m pleased that the Scottish Government will offer free bus travel to all people under the age of 22 from January 2022.
And then last but not least we need the buses on our roads to be zero-emission. We want the majority of fossil fuel buses off our roads by 2023. To support this, many operators have already taken advantage of funding through our Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme and I’m pleased that electric buses built in Scotland will be operating in Glasgow during COP26.
Our new Zero Emission Bus Challenge Fund, worth £50 million, is currently open for bids, and I hope that more bus operators, manufacturers and energy companies come together through that to build on what operators have already shown is possible.
The superpower that is unique to bus is the support it can offer us in our just transition to a zero emission society. Through the stories of bus champions, road shows and other events, I welcome the contribution of #LoveMyBus in helping us tell this positive story.
Our message is clear – together, let’s put bus at the heart of Scotland’s just and green recovery.