Making cuts to a government grant scheme for bus operators will have a "damaging impact" on services and passengers, according to the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
The party`s transport spokesman, Jim Hume MSP, said he is a launching a campaign to save bus services from cuts and "dramatic changes to the funding mechanism made by the SNP Government".
Earlier in 2012, the Scottish Government announced changes to the Bus Service Operators Grant, designed to "encourage fuel efficiency and redistribute benefits, principally to rural areas".
The grant is paid to commercial and community bus operators with the aim of helping operators keep their fares down, and enabling them to run services that might not otherwise be commercially viable.
The Lib Dems said changes announced in the April budget have resulted in a 17.5% cut to the grant, and also operators will receive 14.4p per in-service kilometre instead of 41.2p per litre.
Mr Hume now plans to write to more than 170 bus operators in Scotland to "identify the extent of the impact of these cuts to their service provision".
He said: "This is bread and butter stuff which the SNP have failed to get right.
"Making cuts to this grant with no provision for plugging the hole will have a damaging impact on both the service operator and the passenger.
"At a time when we're trying to convince people to use public transport more, the last thing the SNP should be doing is forcing bus companies to hike up prices.
"The SNP had the opportunity to use the extra funding made available from Westminster, but this hasn't happened."
He added: "The devil is in the detail on this one. If the SNP think people will simply let these cuts lie and let day-to-day public transport costs go up, they can think again."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "These suggestions are entirely misleading. The one factor that everyone should be able to agree on in this debate is that fuel prices are a much more significant factor.
"The evidence is overwhelming - the price of diesel has increased by 57% over the last five years and petrol has soared by 55%. The Scottish Government does not have control over this most influential of factors and we again call on Westminster to introduce a fuel duty regulator.
"Our approach ensures funding for miles travelled and allows inclusion of Demand Responsive Transport services available to the general public, such as dial-a-bus.
"When we add to this funding of up to £40m for Glasgow Fastlink, £6m for low carbon buses, and up £10m for Halbeath Park & Ride, our commitment to supporting public transport services is unquestionable.
"Despite facing Westminster cuts of around £1.3bn to Scotland's budget, the Scottish Government have stabilised the Bus Services Operators Grant while rewarding fuel efficiency. Given that the last few years have seen a dramatic increase in fuel costs, our reforms are making the whole system more efficient."
He added: "We have allocated total funding of almost £250m per year for Scotland's buses - 20% more per capita than south of the border. We have also recently announced £6m for a green bus fund and put aside £3m for a transition period during the subsidy changes.
"Our continued dialogue with the bus operators ensures we are listening to what the industry has to say and are in a good position to protect services for passengers."
- Labour launch campaign over bus changes
- Transport Minister accosted by pensioners angry over bus cuts
People who read this story also read
- Government does not know if bus punctuality targets are being met
- Conservatives, LibDems and independents to lead Aberdeenshire Council
- Woman’s body found in remains of terraced house where fire broke out
- High speed rail network ‘should be extended to Scotland,’ says MP
- Councils must work with Scottish Government to boost economy, Swinney says