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I welcome the cabinet secretary’s amendments in the group, as they put into effect Colin Smyth’s stage 2 initiative, which is good. The amendments are potentially transformational and need to be acted on urgently.
Scottish Labour strongly supports the principle of bus company ownership by local authorities. It would enable local authorities to be proactive and to ensure that communities get the bus services that they need so that people of all ages have access to employment, schools, further and higher education, health facilities, shops and community and leisure facilities—everything that we need in our daily lives.
An expansion of not-for-profit bus services means that investment will benefit our communities directly.
The bus pass for the over-60s, which I introduced, was crucial in giving access to bus services for older people and gave those with cars the option of leaving their car at home when going to work or about their business. However, as Colin Smyth said, far too many people simply do not have any bus services to use or the services are too expensive. That is why we urgently need municipal bus company ownership.
The model in Scotland is Lothian Buses, which is an award-winning company that provides an affordable service, with a network right across the city and links across the region. The profits are reinvested locally.