Budget funds can help save local bus routes- Jo

Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire is calling on the SNP government to use the extra money available to Scotland following the UK budget last month to tackle growing problems with the Bus Services Operators Grant (BSOG).

The SNP government recently cut the bus grant from £60.8 million to £53.8 million – a cut of 17.5%. In addition the move to funding buses from ‘pence per litre’ to ‘pence per in-service kilometre’ will also have a significant impact.

Locally First Glasgow’s number 11 bus route will be withdrawn at the end of this month leaving thousands in Bearsden with no public transport during the day. First Glasgow will also move the 119 terminus from the Baljaffray Shopping Centre to the lay-by on Castlemains Road, cutting this public transport link between Bearsden and Milngavie.

While bus operators in England had 18 months to prepare for a new funding structure and mechanism, the SNP government only gave operators in Scotland 3 months to adjust to the changes.

The Barnet consequentials that stem from the UK budget amount to £9million for 2012/13 and £7million for 2013/14. This would cover the cuts made to the BSOG by the SNP government in the recent Scottish budget.

Jo and other Scottish Liberal Democrats want this money to be used for a new local bus fund, with the money being delivered directly to Councils or local transport bodies to support bus services in their area and mitigate the impact of the cuts to the BSOG.

Commenting, Jo Swinson said:

“The extra money coming from Westminster gives the SNP a chance to do something to help passengers.

“There are now enough funds to plug the shortfall for the next two years so that bus operators can prepare for changes, keep fares down and protect vital routes.”

“Giving this money directly to local councils and transport providers will also allow decision making to be done by the people who know what is best for the communities they serve.”

“We should be promoting the use of buses in an effort to cut our carbon emissions, not reducing routes.”

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