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Transport (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th October 2019.

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Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

The amendments in this group, which are all in my name, seek to ensure that bus services improvement plans and franchises respond to the needs of people who are living in poverty and people with relevant protected characteristics. It is important that bus services improvement partnerships deliver for all passengers, and these amendments will ensure that inclusion is at the heart of plans.

Transport has an important role to play in the lives of people who are living in poverty and people with protected characteristics. Good public transport can provide essential access to a range of opportunities and services. Equally, poor or inaccessible public transport can contribute to poverty and worsen its effects.

The amendments in this group will ensure that that is a key consideration as plans are developed.

Such consideration could inform a range of aspects of plans. The most obvious example is the affordability of fares. Consideration might also impact on decisions about routes, for example, to ensure that services run through deprived areas in our communities, which are often overlooked.

The Poverty and Inequality Commission recently produced a report that highlighted the significant role of transport in addressing poverty and inequality, and made clear that the status quo is not working. It stated:

“It is clear to the Commission that action is needed on transport in order to help unlock people from poverty.”

The Government’s draft national transport strategy sets “promoting equality” as one of its key strategic priorities. These amendments are a small but practical way to put those words into action in order to develop a fairer rights-based transport system.

I move amendment 67.