Scotland politics

Bus company calls for move away from cars and rail

New McGill's bus Image copyright McGill's

One of Scotland's main bus operators has strongly criticised government and councils for favouring cars and rail.

McGill's, which operates on Clydeside and employs 800 staff, said the number of journeys taken by bus needs to be reflected in investment priorities.

It called for more bus shelters, and better management of parking and roadworks.

The comments accompanied the firm's annual results, covering the 2018 calendar year.

Revenue was down 4% to £38m, with the company saying that fall is largely due to declining shopping footfall on high streets. The decline began in 2015. Pre-tax profit was £1.4m.

James Easdale, chairman of the family-owned, Greenock-based company, said it had adapted to the changing market with a 27% cut in its administration costs.

Ralph Roberts, the managing director, added: "Government policy at national and local level favours the car and train with the bulk of infrastructure investment going to these two modes.

"Buses deliver 74% of public transport journeys yet this mode receives peppercorn levels of infrastructure investment.

"We are talking to government at a national level to release more funding for the bus user but local government sees this as high risk as it will bring voter backlash from car users. Local politicians need to remember that buses users are also voters."

Sandy Easdale, another director of the bus operator, commented: "Given the climate emergency now declared, local authorities need to prioritise the bus over the car.

"Buses are the answer to congestion and poor air quality whereas the car is the cause of them. We need more bus shelters, more parking management and better road works management which will contribute to healthier and wealthier lives for the public."

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