Falkirk Council has given its backing to move which would give them more power over bus regulation.
The executive committee last week considered MSP Iain Gray’s Private Members Bill, which proposes that transport authorities should be given greater powers to set service levels for local bus services, including grouping profitable bus routes with non-profitable ones before they are put out to tender with operators.
Councillor Craig R. Martin said: “We spend nearly £2 million on providing bus services but the service is still very poor.
“That’s why Iain Gray has brought forward this Bill. The situation may even get worse, because the government is cutting the bus grant and is reducing the subsidy for the free bus pass. Things are going to get worse for the people who rely on our buses.”
The Bill would give Falkirk Council full control over the bus network, including service frequencies, routes, vehicles and fares. It would also give them the opportunity to provide higher levels of service to communities which are currently unserved, or served infrequently. The council would also be able to hand out financial penalties to bus operators who do not meet the expected standards.
However, these changes would require additional funding in order to bring them to fruition.
Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “It is getting increasingly hard to keep services running. We need to have a debate about the bus service in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament introduced free bus travel for retired people – but there’s no point in having a free bus pass if you can’t get a bus!”
Councillor Gerry Goldie believes there needs to be a wider look at transport across the board. He said: “The problem with transport is that everyone is looking after their own interests.
“We need get everyone together - taxi representatives, bus companies, and look at how we can provide a good affordable service. The bus service in Falkirk is, quite simply, deplorable. The fact they are asking people to pay money to get on these buses in unbelievable – some of them wouldn’t look out of place in the transport museum.”