Scottish councils will have the power to run their own bus services by this summer, it has been announced.
Ministers have pledged that the Scottish Government will enact powers enabling local authorities to do so by July 2022.
The powers are being made available under the Transport (Scotland) Act, introduced in 2019.
It is aimed at handing councils greater flexibility in responding to their own transport challenges.
Work on implementing the legislation on buses provided under the Act was paused due to the pandemic.
Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said that not every local authority may choose to run their own services.
But, she indicated that the “key” is that councils will have “greater tools at their disposal” to revitalise bus services where it is required.
“Local authorities asked for greater powers to run their own bus services and I’m pleased the Scottish Government will now deliver this,” she said.
“As with many aspects of the Transport Act, the provisions empower local authorities with the flexible tools they need to respond to their own transport challenges.
“Not every local authority will want to run their own bus services – some may opt for a partnership or franchise approach.
“What’s key is that local authorities will soon have greater tools at their disposal to revitalise bus services where required.”
Gilruth set out the funding being made available by the Scottish Government to help improve bus infrastructure in Scotland.
“Whether it’s local authority run bus services or private operators – there are shared challenges we need to address collectively to put bus at the heart of our green recovery,” said the minister.
“This is why the Scottish Government is investing over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure.
“This will address the impact that congestion has on bus services, making them quicker and more attractive for passengers.
“Coupled with the expansion of free bus travel to under 22s and significant investment to encourage a shift to zero emission buses, we’re responding to the climate emergency by placing buses at the front of our just transition to a net zero society – supporting our world leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.”
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