The Scottish Government's long-awaited Transport Bill would ban pavement parking and introduce a new partnership model for buses, while allowing councils to introduce franchising or run services themselves.
Transport Scotland said the newly published Transport (Scotland) Bill will bring forward the most radical measures since devolution to make the country’s transportation network ‘cleaner, smarter and more accessible than ever before’.
It added that the Bill aims to ‘empower local authorities and establish consistent standards in order to tackle current and future challenges, while delivering a more responsive and sustainable transport system for all’.
Measures in the Bill include giving local authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs) ‘flexibility’ to improve bus services through Bus Service Improvement Partnerships with operators or, ‘where there is a good case for doing so’, local franchising or running services themselves.
The Bill also proposes a ban on double parking and parking on pavements and giving local authorities the powers needed to enforce these measures.
The legislation has been some time in the making. Last spring, Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf said it would clear up the 'legal dubiety’ around whether councils can run bus companies, as currently happens with Lothian buses.
Announcing its publication, Mr Yousaf (pictured) said: ‘The Transport Bill reflects a period of significant public consultation and engagement. It responds to the views of passengers and stakeholders by providing local authorities and RTPs with the tools to address local needs.
‘This government will not stand by as bus passenger numbers decline. Partnership is at the centre of our proposals, with a new model for local authorities to work with bus operators to revitalise services. We are also providing clearer options for authorities to pursue local franchising or provide services themselves in appropriate circumstances.
‘Beyond bus services, this Bill will allow for decriminalised enforcement of Low Emission Zones, double parking and parking on pavements. This will help transform our towns and cities into cleaner, more accessible and more pleasant spaces to travel and enjoy. By strengthening the technology and governance which underpins smart ticketing, people will be able to move between our cities with greater ease and convenience.’
Other measures in the Bill include:
- Enabling the creation and decriminalised enforcement of Low Emission Zones.
- Standardising smart ticketing technology to ensure compatibility, and setting in place an advisory body to best support interoperable Scotland-wide smart ticketing.
- Strengthening the powers of the Scottish Road Works Commissioner in order to better regulate road works.
- Allowing RTPs to build up and carry appropriate financial reserves.
- Giving Scottish ministers powers to enhance the board structure of Scottish Canals to strengthen its capacity to support economic regeneration.