Damning report finds public transport in Scotland is ‘too expensive and unreliable’ – Daily Record

Scotland’s transport system is unaffordable and prevents too many people from finding jobs, a damning report has found.

Campaigners say the fragmented nature of the bus and rail network means many parts of the country lack reliable services, with the poorest Scots left trapped in poverty as a result.

Commissioned by Transport Scotland and carried out by the Poverty Alliance the report highlights how the unreliability and unavailability of public transport particularly impacts families with young children as alternative options are often scarce or unsuitable.

The report is launched at a time of growing hardship across Scotland, with over one million people – including around one in four children – living in the grip of poverty even before the covid pandemic.

While the Scottish Government announced in March that free bus travel would be extended to all under-22s, the report wants it to go further.

The Poverty Alliance published an open letter in May calling on party leaders to support an extension of free bus travel to all under-25s, as well as everyone on low income benefits.

Peter Kelly, director of Poverty Alliance, said:“These findings support what communities have been telling us for many years – that too many families in Scotland are locked into hardship because of our transport system.

“In the just and compassionate society we all want to live in, our public services should help secure a decent life for everyone.

“Yet as this report makes clear, right now our transport system is tightening rather than loosening the grip of poverty.

“That’s why action is needed now to address both the affordability and availability of public transport.

“There are a range of policy solutions that should be implemented, including – as participants in the research told us – widening access to free public transport for people on low incomes, as well as taking steps to better connect communities, particularly rural communities.”

Welcoming the report, SNP transport minister Graeme Dey said: “Our national transport strategy sets out an ambition for everyone in Scotland to have fair access to the services we need.

“The findings from this research highlight the urgent need for us to develop actions to address the interlinked challenges of public transport availability and affordability on a specific and targeted basis.

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“We are already working to introduce the legal changes required to extend free bus travel to everyone under the age of 22.

“The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on our public transport system and the Scottish Government has to date committed additional financial support of up to £1 billion to the transport sector.

“As we work to support a fair and sustainable economic recovery from covid it is imperative that we also introduce a fair system for paying for transport which alleviates the strain on those living in poverty, particularly children.”

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