Transport partnership calls for support from the Scottish Government

Glasgow Subway patronage has fallen by around 90% as a result of Covid-19

SPT, the regional transport partnership for the Strathclyde area of West of Scotland, has called on the Scottish Government to put public transport at the forefront of this week’s budget announcement.

Public transport across the West of Scotland has seen a drastic drop in patronage since the beginning of the pandemic, says SPT. With commercial bus patronage down by up to 80%, with service reductions & cancellations now being introduced under emergency provisions, SPT says it has continued to run the majority of its subsidised bus services during the lockdown.

It has also revealed Glasgow’s Subway saw a drop of almost 97% patronage at the beginning of the pandemic and first lockdown in March 2020. During this current lockdown, Subway is currently reporting patronage is down by around 90%.

Most recently, ScotRail has also reported its passengers numbers have fallen by almost 80% in the last three months of 2020 and has cut 272 train journeys from its timetable.

“We need to start looking now at a long term recovery plan for transport which will require considerable financial assistance going forward,” said David Wilson, SPT’s chair of operations committee.

“We recognise that the Scottish Government has invested a considerable amount in transport already especially to compensate bus operators for the loss of revenue they have experienced during the pandemic. However, the Government must now think beyond subsidy and ensure transport is front and centre of the budget as transport will play a key role in getting our economy and lives back to normal when all this is finally over.

“There are many challenges facing transport, we must all now work together to look at a proper recovery plan. I have previously suggested to the Cabinet Secretary for Transport that we need a Bus Taskforce for Scotland so that we can work together to develop a collective, co-ordinated and multi-faceted response to this crisis facing public transport across Scotland.

“Among the first things the Taskforce could look at includes a review of the Transport Act, and in particular the opportunities presented by the Bus Service Improvement Partnerships; how we can support the Programme for Government pledge regarding the Scottish National Investment Bank and funding for zero emission buses as we approach COP26; and most importantly how we create more equality for those areas which do not have the access to bus services they need to participate in inclusive economic growth.

“This is vitally important going forward. The role of public transport in our everyday lives remains essential and as our lives return to normal, we must do all we can together to reassure and inspire confidence in the public to return to these key modes of travel.”

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