Scotland politics

Public transport use in Scotland falls, reveals transport strategy

Public transport


Overall use since 2006

  • -12% Bus passengers

  • -7% Ferry passengers

  • +29% ScotRail passengers


The number of people using public transport in Scotland over the last nine years has fallen by 6%, a new report has revealed.

The National Transport Strategy also said that in the same period, traffic on the country's roads went up by 2%.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said the Scottish government had "invested heavily" in transport since the first strategy was published in 2006.

He added that progress in key areas had been made, "despite the recession".

The updated strategy looked at trends and statistics over the last nine years and said;

  • the Scottish government had invested £15bn in transport since 2007
  • bus passenger journeys has decreased by 12%, from 476 million
  • ScotRail passengers increased by 29%, from 76.4 million.
  • air terminal passengers numbers saw little change
  • and ferry passenger numbers on routes within Scotland saw a 7% reduction

The report also detailed the "significant" fall in road deaths.

It said the number of people killed was down from 314 in 2006 to 200 in 2014, a reduction of 36%.

'Wasted decade'

Director of lobby group Transform Scotland, Colin Howden, said it was "tragic" that there had been "absolutely no progress" in moving people from cars to public transport.

He added: "As the new strategy sets out, the past decade has seen a 2% increase in traffic levels, while public transport use has declined by 6%.

"Whether one wants to tackle congestion, improve connectivity, or cut emissions, the evidence in this new strategy highlights a wasted decade in improving Scotland's transport."

However, Mr Mackay believed the review had produced "good news" on a range of issues including;

  • improved journey times and connections
  • reduced emissions
  • and improved quality, accessibility and affordability.

He said: "Rail has performed particularly strongly with more passengers than ever before now choosing to travel on Scotland's railways, with the newly opened Borders Railway leading the line in this success.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Rail passenger numbers have increased by 30% but overall public transport use, which includes rail, bus and ferry, is down

"The Scottish government has committed £5bn to transforming Scotland's rail network, including £475mn for the largest-ever train improvement programme seen in Scotland.

"This will see 10% more trains for the ScotRail fleet, providing 23% extra seats for passengers, and mean that 90% of all Scotland's trains will either be new or fully refurbished by 2019."

And Transport Scotland said that despite the economic squeeze investment in the infrastructure had continued since 2006.

A spokesman pointed to the growth in rail passengers which had recorded a 30% increase in the last decade.

He added: "Of course we recognise that there is more to be done, particularly in improving the patronage figures for buses, and the refresh has confirmed that a review is necessary in the next parliament to explore the issues in more depth."