Falkirk Council calls for nationalised buses

Bus fares are higher in Falkirk to comparative journeys in other local authorities
Bus fares are higher in Falkirk to comparative journeys in other local authorities

Falkirk Council will write to the Scottish Government to demand it looks at how to improve bus services.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the executive committee on Tuesday, after a proposal from Councillor Craig Martin.

Dr Martin said: “People in Falkirk are paying too much for a service that is not good enough. There needs to be re-regulation of the national bus service.”

Currently local authorities subsidise rural routes that are not commercially viable, at a cost of £1.5 million annually.

Falkirk bus passengers pay higher fares than many parts of the country, with Lothian Buses in Edinburgh offering an all day ticket for £3, while a return from Shieldhill to Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert costs over £5.

At the meeting, SNP councillor David Alexander moved an amendment, as well as urging the proposal be taken to the Labour Party Conference as it was a national issue.

He said: “I would love to see re-regulation of the bus services but it has been shelved nationally because of the cost – an estimated £1 billion. Where do you expect that kind of money to be found? It could signal the end of free transport for the elderly or disabled to make up the difference if this was given to go ahead.”

All eight Labour members on the committee voted for the motion, with SNP councillors David Alexander and Tom Coleman and Tory councillor Malcolm Nicol voting for the amendment of further investigation into funding the plan before taking it to Holyrood.

Speaking after the meeting Dr Martin said: “There is no guarantee the Scottish Government will take any notice but we have to do something.

“I’m not sure how much longer a commercial bus service is viable. The operators can’t seem to make a profit and the services are getting cut all the time.

“We need to make bus use a more appealing, reliable and affordable option.”