Encouraging bus and coach travel is vital to meet Scotland’s net zero targets, says new report

Posted: 22 February 2023 | | No comments yet

The report calls for policies to promote bus and coach travel in Scotland in order to achieve the country’s net zero targets and unlock benefits, including investing in infrastructure and subsidising fares.

Encouraging bus and coach travel is vital to meet Scotland's net zero targets, says new report

A new report, commissioned by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), shows how major benefits could be reaped by levelling the playing field between private motoring and public transport in Scotland.

This follows on from a study in 2022 which showed that attracting drivers to switch some journeys to bus or coach was necessary to meet net zero targets. This would produce significant economic, social and health benefits .

With a 70-year decline in bus travel, the report makes clear that focusing on one policy alone will not get the job done. For example, it shows how increasing motoring costs in isolation would hit those who do not have any other option to use their cars, particularly low-income earners. Instead, making bus travel free across Scotland would cost millions without having a significant impact on people’s travel choices

Therefore, the report calls for a realistic, fair and politically achievable package of policies to encourage people to switch two car journeys a month to bus or coach. This will ensure a reduction in emissions of 1.1 million tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the total transport emissions in Aberdeen.

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In addition to keeping the country on the path to net zero, moving more people onto bus and coach has the potential to unlock benefits, which include:

  • A total of £3.4 billion of socio-economic benefits from changes in travel patterns 
  • A total of £800,000 in air quality benefits from reduced congestion 
  • A total of 3,000 new jobs and £180 million additional GDP through better connectivity to job and services.

Paul White, Director of CPT Scotland, said, “Without long-term investment in the funding of services and infrastructure to make bus and coach journeys more attractive for passengers, Scotland will not be able to effectively contribute to Scotland’s 2045 Net Zero target. This is why decision-makers in Scotland should get on-board with bus policy packages because they are fair and achievable measures to slash carbon, generate new tax revenue, create more jobs and make people healthier.”

In order to go the full distance of meeting decarbonisation targets, bus packages across Scotland must cover three key policy areas, with license to adapt according to local needs:

  • Investment in bus services and infrastructure to increase attractiveness of the bus network
  • Subsidising bus fares
  • Charging motorists to drive in congested urban areas.

According to the report, if picked up by decision makers, these policies could reverse a passenger decline per decade of 25% over the past decade, increasing bus patronage by 25% per decade up to 2050.