Travel figures show need for public transport recovery plan

Iain Gray MSP is backing calls for the Scottish Government to provide a recovery plan for transport as new figures out this week reveal that public transport usage was falling year-on-year even before the Covid pandemic struck.

The 2020 Edition of the Scottish Transport Statistics report reveal that from 2018-19 to 2019-20:

  • Car Traffic increased by one per cent
  • ScotRail passengers fell by 1.4 per cent
  • Bus Passengers fell by 3.2 per cent

The long-term trend shows bus passenger numbers falling by 20 per cent over five years, while car traffic increased by 6.5 per cent and the distance driven by motor vehicles on roads increased by eight per cent. The report also revealed bus fares have increased by nine per cent above inflation over the last five years, more than twice as fast as Britain as a whole (four per cent).

The Scottish Government established targets to reduce car kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030. Scottish Labour has said that a Public Transport Recovery Plan will be crucial to reducing car use and achieving the SNP government’s public transport and climate goals.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“These figures make a mockery of the SNP’s promises to promote public transport and reduce car use. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on public transport usage, but it’s clear that targets for reducing car use were not being met even before Covid hit.

“In East Lothian, bus and rail networks had seen incremental improvements for passengers, including some significant investment by local bus operators. We need to ensure that they receive the support needed to keep going through the downturn in passenger numbers and continue providing services in the future.

“Investment in buses and rail must be a priority if we are serious about tackling climate change, growing our economy and ensuring we have a modern and reliable public transport system in place post-pandemic.”