Scottish councils to be allowed to run bus services


The Scottish Government has said it plans to commence by July powers that will formally allow local authorities to run their own bus services.

Secondary legislation to enable bus franchising and partnership options will also be introduced before the end of next year.

Officials said work to implement the ‘ambitious’ new bus legislation provided by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 was paused as a consequence of COVID-19 and the need to shift focus and support bus operators in navigating the pressures of the pandemic.


However, this work recommenced in early 2021 with consultation to inform the development of the necessary secondary legislation and guidance conducted in the latter half of 2021.

The consultation results and analysis have now been published by Transport Scotland.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth said: ‘Local authorities asked for greater powers to run their own bus services and I’m pleased the Scottish Government will now deliver this.

‘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.’

Officials said local authorities will be able to run their own services ‘in any way they see fit within the wider context of their obligations’, with this power sitting alongside their existing ability to subsidise services.

Bus Service Improvement Partnerships are a new type of statutory partnership between local transport authorities and bus operators, while franchising is a system that allows local authorities to award exclusive rights to run certain bus services to the most competitive bidder for a set period under certain conditions.

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