MSP challenges SNP over commitment to bus services

Peter Chapman grilled the SNP transport secretary over claims his government are committed to improving rural routes.
Peter Chapman grilled the SNP transport secretary over claims his government are committed to improving rural routes.

The SNP Government has been challenged over its plans to improve North East bus services by a local MSP.

North East region MSP Peter Chapman grilled the SNP transport secretary over claims his government are committed to improving rural routes.

During a portfolio questions session in the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Conservative Mr Chapman told colleagues his local authority “had no option” to cut support for routes after a 4.36% real-terms cut to its budget.

Aberdeenshire Council last month removed eight of its 64 subsidised routes due to cash flow.

Humza Yousaf conceded bus infrastructure is a “mixed bag” across Scotland and said a forthcoming transport bill would give councils more powers to improve rural and urban bus services.

Mr Chapman said: “Aberdeenshire Council, which is in my region, has to subsidise 64 out of 123 routes, many of which are in rural areas.

“Last month, the council announced proposals to remove eight of those routes and to reduce the service on two of them.

“It had no other option, given that its budget for this year is decreasing by 4.36 per cent in real terms.

"How can the cabinet secretary continue to say that the Government is improving rural bus services?”

Mr Yousaf said: “The forthcoming transport bill will give local authorities the flexibility to pursue partnership working or local franchising, or to run their own bus services, which will allow them to respond better to local needs.”