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Bus services are broken, says MSP

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By Fiona Reid
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Bus services are broken, says MSP

ANSWERS are being demanded from the Scottish Government on what it is doing to reverse a huge decline in bus services in Dumfries and Galloway.

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has asked Minister for Connectivity Jim Fairlie for action.

His Parliamentary question follows a recent consultant’s report for South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWESTRANs) which suggests rising costs and falling passenger numbers means even more routes may need to scrapped and replaced by community transport operators as well as an expanded council service.

He wants the Government to provide funding for councils to run their own bus service to prevent further cuts.

Mr Smyth said: “Services across the region have been in decline for more than a decade, and so have local government budgets.

“An independent report that went to this month’s meeting of SWESTRANs warned the situation is going to get worse.

“A summary of the report notes that “the fragile position of the bus industry in Dumfries and Galloway is acute; resilience is at a historic low and the risk of further degradation is significant” and that “any withdrawal of service…capacity would have a major impact.”

Describing the current model as ‘broken’, he added: “Bus services in rural areas are essential but they are struggling.

“Public transport is a public service and in my view, like all public services, should be publicly owned and run.

“The Scottish Government needs to understand the crisis our bus network faces, make funding available and allow councils to run buses direct or set up arms-length publicly owned bus firms so we can have services that put passengers, not profits first.”

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