North East Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald today urged Scottish Ministers to scrap plans for bus companies to be able to veto council bus services in the planned new Transport Bill.
Following First Aberdeen cutting a number of bus routes in the city, Aberdeen City Council has already stepped in to secure alternative services for the affected communities. However, plans to introduce a wider local authority bus service would only go forward if they were enabled by changes in the law.
After asking Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to ensure that this veto is removed in the planned Transport Bill, Lewis Macdonald said today:
“SNP Ministers have an opportunity in the upcoming Transport Bill to ensure that councils have the powers they need to run local bus services, but Transport Minister Humza Yousaf today would not commit to scrapping the idea of a veto for private sector bus companies.
“There are few communities in Aberdeen which have not been affected by First Aberdeen decisions to cut bus services in recent years.
“Aberdeen City Council has been trying for over a year to find a solution to this problem, and recently agreed to provide four council-supported bus routes across the city to replace services ditched by First Aberdeen.
“A council-run bus service in Aberdeen would ensure that communities continue to be served by public transport, whether or not the route is commercially successful. However, councils need additional powers from the upcoming Transport Bill if they are to be able to set up their own bus services in competition with commercial providers like FirstBus.
“The SNP must ensure that their Transport Bill reflects the needs of local communities, and give local authorities like Aberdeen City Council the powers they need to run their own bus services, whether private companies like it or not.”