Scotland’s Transport Bill :Supporting Public Transport

Scotland’s Transport Bill was passed on Thursday, 10th of October in the Scottish Parliament supported by the Scottish Greens and the SNP. The voting was : For 56, Against 29, Abstentions 18. Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives voted against the Bill and Labour MSPs abstained.

The Bill includes measures to give local authorities options to improve bus services and help reverse the decline in passenger numbers, improve the air quality in towns and cities through low emission zones and address pavement and double parking. Once the Bill is enacted these measures will become law.

pavement parking by David Wright

Information on bus services will also improve and the implementation of smart ticketing will be accelerated to make public transport an easier option.

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, in the Scottish Government said:

“The measures included in the Transport Bill will lead to improved journeys for the travelling public, building on the work that is already underway to reduce emissions to help us meet our world-leading climate change targets.”

Workplace Parking Levy

The Workplace Parking Levy has been subject to a lot of misinformation. This is a discretionary additional power which Local Authorities may or may not use. It is up to Councils if they want to charge businesses and organisations for parking. If a council decides to use this power it is then up to the business/organisation how it wishes to deal with the levy. It can pay it itself or it can pass it on to its workforce.

The Workplace Parking Levy was a measure brought into the Transport Bill by the Scottish Greens.

John FinnieJohn Finnie, Scottish Green MSP said:

“Much of the controversy surrounding this legislation has focused on the workplace parking levy. This is a modest measure which the Green MSPs secured a commitment to during budget negotiations earlier this year, and which I introduced into the Bill via an amendment.

“I say it is modest because in the face of the climate emergency it is just one of many measures that we need to introduce, and in all likelihood it will only be introduced in our city centres – where pollution from cars is most damaging.

“There has been considerable hypocrisy shown by other parties however, with Labour in particular bizarrely adopting a hostile line on a policy which they have supported for a long time, which will empower local councils, and which they campaigned for in a manifesto just two years ago.”

Labour run Nottingham Council has a Workplace Parking Levy and it uses the money raised from it to improve public transport.

Money raised from the WPL has helped to fund NET Phase Two (the extensions to the existing tram system), which now carries more than 17m passengers a year, as well as the redevelopment of Nottingham Station. It also supports the popular Link bus network.

Michael MathesonMichael Matheson said:

“The Bill supports our efforts to make public and sustainable transport the preferred travel options. It empowers local authorities to address local transport needs through new options for improving bus services to help address the decline in passenger numbers. Those measures include a new statutory partnership model, franchising and the ability for local authorities to run buses themselves.

“We are supporting the Bill through over £500 million in bus priority infrastructure investment which was announced in the Programme for Government to help reduce the effects of congestion on services.

“The Low Emission Zones provisions will improve air quality with Scotland’s four largest cities already committed to their introduction and local authorities are also being given a new tool to address the climate emergency with the discretionary powers for a Workplace Parking Levy.

“The Bill puts into law the requirement for the Scottish Government to have a National Transport Strategy and in doing so recognises the contribution that transport makes to society, including enabling the realisation of human rights and reduction of poverty and inequality .

“I now look forward to working with our partners to put these measures into practice, protecting our climate and improving lives in the process.”

electric bus Orkney

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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