I welcome moves by Iain Gray MSP to bring in a Members' Bill in the Scottish Parliament to improve bus services and ensure that they are 'services' for the people who use them. The Bill being proposed by Iain Gray would give local authorities the power to 'bundle' profitable and loss making (but socially desirable) routes together which would be tendered together as a 'quality contract'. I supported similar plans in the last session of the Scottish Parliament put forward by Charlie Gordon, unfortunately no party other than Labour supported these I hope that the situation will be different this time.
I support the work being done by Iain Gray on the important issue of bus services. There is a clear need for more regulation. In Dundee we have two bus companies operating who offer excellent services for areas where a profit can be made but where there is a poor service for other parts of the city. We normally talk about a bus service, there is an issue in my mind as to whether there is actually a service being offered or are services only run to make money. It is important to remember that the public sector provides quite a lot of support for bus companies including the subsidised free travel and other things like bus shelters and information I think it is fair to ask does the public get enough in return?
In the West End there are excellent services to and from Ninewells Hospital but in some other areas such as the Logie estate and the Pentland estate there is a service which does not meet the needs of the residents in these areas, especially the elderly. I think that the successful services in the West End should be used to maintain the other services which are socially desirable such as ones which benefit elderly residents in the Logie Estate. It seems clear to me that bus companies will not deliver socially useful services unless they are made to.
I will be looking for the consultation document when it is published and I will be responding to it, I think that it is important that changes are made to the bus industry to ensure that a bus service is offered to everyone in Scotland.