STUC calls for a truly public approach to transport on International Public Transport Day

November 10th 2021

STUC calls for a truly public approach to transport on International Public Transport Day

November 10th 2021

The STUC which is running a ‘Our Climate Our Buses campaign’ [1] says that workers are fighting for investment in high-quality bus and rail services which are crucial if climate targets are to be met. 36% of Scotland’s emissions come from transport. Bus use has fallen by 43% since it was deregulated by Margaret Thatcher. There were 50 million fewer bus journeys between 2014 and 2019 while car journeys have increased by 2 billion.

The union body is calling on the Scottish Government to change track on its transport policy, arguing the Scottish Government’s ‘Bus Partnership Fund’ privileges private companies and excludes publicly-owned bus services. The £500 million Fund requires Local Authorities to establish deregulated ‘Bus Partnerships’ with private operators to access funding. Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, has said Scotland’s bus partnership model is “a failed middle ground that should be phased out in favour of public control and ownership”. [2}

Meanwhile, ScotRail’s consultation over a proposed new timetable, would mean a 12% cut compared to pre-pandemic rail services. A key problem that gave rise to ScotRail industrial action was the attempt by bosses to link the pay offer to a reduction in ticket office opening hours. The STUC are calling on the Scottish Government to intervene to shelve office closure plans and to intervene to resolve the dispute at Serco Caledonian Sleeper where action by the RMT union for better pay will resume on Thursday

Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary said:

“Public transport is absolutely crucial in the fight against climate change, but better services need to be paid for. Transport workers are real climate heroes. Scotland’s trade union movement congratulates them for standing up to bad bosses, taking action for better services, and winning.

“The Scottish Government’s ‘bus partnership’ approach has been tried and failed many times before. Rather than providing £500million to partnerships with private operators, it should provide £500 million to Local Authorities to run bus services in public hands.

“It is unbelievable that as we head into COP26, Scotrail is proposing cuts to the railway timetable and cuts to ticket offices. Scotland’s railways need investment – not cuts.

Speaking after a noisy rally was held in George Square in support of free, publicly owned transport, STUC Deputy General Secretary Dave Moxham said:

“The Scottish Government needs to show that it is hand in hand with the people when it comes to taking action on climate change, not big business who care more about profit than providing decent, well-run services.”

ENDS

Notes [1] STUC’s ‘Our Climate, Our Buses’ campaign https://stuc.org.uk/files/campaigns/Buses/Our-Buses_briefing.pdf [2) https://chrgj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Report-Public-Transport-Private-Profit.pdf

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