Local Authority Bus Services

– in the Scottish Parliament on 30th September 2021.

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Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government when it will implement part 3 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 to allow local authorities to bring forward proposals to directly run bus services in their area. (S6O-00228)

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

As I outlined in my letter to all members in June, work to implement part 3 of the 2019 act resumed earlier this year, following a pause necessitated by the pandemic. We are currently consulting to help inform the development of the necessary secondary legislation and guidance. The consultation closes on 6 October, and I would encourage all interested parties to feed into the process if they have not already done so.

Photo of Colin Smyth Colin Smyth Labour

The minister will know that it is more than two years since I lodged an amendment to the Transport (Scotland) Bill to lift that historical ban on councils directly running bus services or establishing municipal bus companies. Can he give us a timescale for when he expects those powers to come into force? Councils want to get on with the job of delivering bus services to their communities. Will the minister also ensure that direct funding is made available to councils to enable them to use those powers, including for capital and revenue start-up costs?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I recognise the constructive way in which Colin Smyth engaged on the Transport (Scotland) Bill and on those provisions. He is asking for a timetable. In essence, we would expect to have the findings of the consultation available to us towards the end of the year. I offer him the assurance that we will look to move on that as quickly as possible. Like him, I see this matter as a real priority.

When it comes to funding, as Colin Smyth knows, we have committed to establishing the community bus fund for this purpose and others. As we see the outcome of the recommendations from the consultation, we will be able to move forward on that, too. I will be happy to work with Colin Smyth on that.

Photo of Graham Simpson Graham Simpson Conservative

The original question that Colin Smyth asked the Government was

“when it will implement part 3 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019”.

I am not sure that we have had an answer to that. The minister said that the consultation will close by the end of the year, but can he actually give an answer to the original question? When does he anticipate part 3 of the 2019 act being implemented?

Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I think that I answered that question and I would have thought that Mr Simpson, as an experienced parliamentarian, would have picked up on that. As he knows, we need to develop the secondary legislation, time will have to be found in the parliamentary timetable for its consideration and the committee will want to scrutinise it. I anticipate that being done as quickly as possible.