The Scottish Government are undertaking a review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS) in order to develop a successor to the current strategy. The new transport strategy will set out the vision for transport over the next 20 years.
The Scottish Government are undertaking a review of the National Transport Strategy (NTS) in order to develop a successor to the current strategy. The new transport strategy will set out the vision for transport over the next 20 years. The NTS Review engagement and consultation will take place over the next couple of years with a view to publishing the new strategy in summer 2019. This response is to the Call for Evidence from the NTS Review Research and Evidence Working Group.
CAS has undertaken recent research into public transport, including the ‘Round the Bend’ report and the ‘Rural Bus Summit’. The ‘Round the Bend’ report forms the basis of our response.
- Public transport plays an important role in people’s lives. In particular, buses have a key role to play in ensuring Scotland has high quality, integrated public transport.
- Bus transport has the potential to contribute to the Scottish Government Strategic Objectives in a number of ways. Firstly, it can help create a Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by ensuring employees can travel to and from work. It can also contribute to this Strategic Objective by ensuring bus transport is responsive to the needs of local people. Secondly, bus transport can contribute to the Scottish Government Strategic Objective of creating a Healthier Scotland by ensuring people are able to access local health care services. Thirdly, it can contribute to the Scottish Government Strategic Objective of creating a Safer and Stronger Scotland by helping create and maintain strong communities.
- ‘Round the Bend’ looked at what was happening with bus transport across Scotland and explored issues facing consumers in accessing essential services, such as healthcare and work opportunities, using the bus network. This research was carried out by 16 Citizens Advice Bureaux and covered the experience of 113 local communities. Among the many issues it raised were differences in the experiences of urban and rural consumers using bus transport. Key findings in the research included:
- 38% of locations surveyed had no Sunday service that connected them with local hospitals
- In remote rural areas the median cost of a return ticket to the nearest Job Centre was £9.00
- Consumers in the rural areas surveyed face an average 40 minute round trip to access the nearest bank branch
- Residents of rural areas were on average 5 miles from the nearest GP surgery
- College students in remote areas on average face journey times of over an hour and at a median cost of £10 return
- Following the ‘Round the Bend’ report Citizens Advice Scotland invited policy experts in public transport, consumer organisations, government officials and community representatives to attend a rural bus summit to discuss the issues facing rural communities and public transport. At this rural bus summit issues and challenges which were highlighted included the problems in serving dispersed populations over large distances; a lack of consideration of public transport in planning decisions; a need for better co-ordination of bus times in order to ensure there is less overlap of services; the negative impact of a lack of connectivity, including reduced access to employment opportunities and reduced access to health care; and reduced access to social contact and support which could result in isolation and poorer mental and physical health; and how good practice, such as live departure times, could be highlighted.
- Additionally, at the CAS rural bus summit some policy intervention options for making fares more affordable were advocated. These included:
- Increased national funding;
- Making fares more transparent;
- Rolling out best practice examples;
- Making it simpler to understand fares;
- A cap on fare increases;
- Standardisation of fares; and
- More smart ticketing