West Scotland Labour MSP Neil Bibby has insisted that the Scottish Government must ‘stop sitting idly by’ as bus services are ‘decimated’ across Renfrewshire.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Mr Bibby told Transport Minister Kevin Stewart that mothers were being late for work and that young people in Erskine cannot get to college.
He told the Transport Minister: “Thousands of my constituents in Renfrewshire are angry, are frustrated, and are in despair after McGill’s Buses cut a huge 13 percent of services at the start of this month.
“These are just the latest cuts in the bus market, which has been decimated over the past 16 years. For example, in 2007, under the then Labour Government, there were 5,400 buses in operation, but the figure had plummeted to 3,700 in 2022…
“Young people and older people alike are now asking what the point is of having a free bus pass if there is no bus to get on.
“In Kilbarchan, buses have been cut from one every 20 minutes to one an hour. In Erskine, young people are without the 22 service to get them to college in Paisley.
“In Gallowhill and Whitehaugh, disabled residents have lost the service from inside their scheme.
“In Neilston and Barrhead, cuts are affecting national health service workers who are trying to make it to shifts at the Royal Alexandra hospital.
“In Foxbar, a constituent of mine who is a dialysis patient is having to take a daily taxi journey because of early morning bus cuts.
“Working mothers in Johnstone also face early morning bus cuts, and now find it impossible to get to work on time after dropping the kids at school. Service cuts are affecting Spateston, Linwood, Ferguslie, Hawkhead, Kirklandneuk, Bishopton and more.”
Mr Bibby went on to tell the Transport Minister: “It is frankly astonishing that the Scottish Government has done nothing, precisely nothing, to stop bus services in Renfrewshire from being cut.
“It is also extremely disappointing that the Transport Minister has so far ignored my invitation to visit Renfrewshire and hear directly from the passengers affected.
“People in my area are rightly asking: “what is the Government here for?”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Bibby added: “These bus cuts are unacceptable to local people. So they should be unacceptable to the Scottish Government too. People don’t want warm words, they want action. They want a reversal of these cuts, and an urgent plan to save our bus services.
“There should be no more blank cheques for private operators, with stricter conditions on government support.
“There should be a cap on bus fares to get people back on our buses. Labour mayors across England have capped a single fare at £2. People in Renfrewshire are paying some of the highest bus fares in the UK, at £2.85 for a two-mile journey. If it’s good enough for Manchester and Liverpool, it’s good enough for Renfrewshire and West Scotland.
“And there should be fundamental reform of Scotland’s broken bus market, with local transport authorities provided with the resources, information and guidance needed to bring buses back under public control: run as a public service, not for private profit.”