The Scottish Government has published a ‘refresh’ of its National Transport Strategy, (NTS) in advance of a potential overhaul, which reveals a 6% fall in overall public transport use since 2006.
The new document is an update on the 2006 NTS, and was drawn up in conjunction with the Convention of Scottish Local Authority Leaders (COSLA).
It recommends a fuller review of the NTS in the next Scottish parliamentary term. Elections for the Holyrood Parliament are due to be held in May.
Holyrood told to review its National Transport Strategy
Figures within the paper reveal that the number of bus passenger journeys in Scotland fell by 12% to 414 million from 2006 to 2014. But the number of passenger journeys on ScotRail rose by 29% to 92.7 million. There was very little change in the modal share of journeys to work during this time.
The overall number of journeys on Scotland’s roads rose by 2% between 2006 and 2014 but the number of people killed in road accidents fell by 36%, from 314 to 200.
Transport minister Derek Mackay MSP sought to play down the focus on public transport and described the overall picture as ‘good news’.
Responding to the fall in bus use, he said: ‘We are now forging new partnerships with bus operators and authorities to deliver smart and integrated ticketing, tackle congestion and use our existing road space to give bus the priority it needs if it is to attract people out of their cars and reduce emissions and pollution.’
He added: ‘I do not underestimate the scale of such challenges but we are well placed to meet them, not least because constitutionally, politically, and in our key relationships, we are now operating in a very different landscape. For example, we now frame the relationship between central and local government through partnership working; and we now frame our discussions with communities around empowerment and the so-called “co-production” of solutions to shared problems.’
COSLA’s development, economy and sustainability spokesperson, Cllr Stephen Hagan, said: ‘COSLA has been involved throughout the development of this refreshed National Transport Strategy and we welcome the partnership approach that has been adopted by the Scottish ministers across the process.’
But Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland and a member of the stakeholder group that advised on the new strategy, said: ‘We’ve been very happy to have provided assistance to the Government in the refresh of the 2006 strategy, and have been impressed by the collaborative attitude of the civil servants involved in its preparation. However, given the failure of the 2006 strategy to reverse negative trends in transport, we have no confidence that this updated strategy will bring any more success.’
Aberdeen City Council has also agreed its local transport strategy for 2016-2021. The council says that by 2021 it ‘should have increased modal share for public transport and active travel, reduced the need to travel and reduced dependence on the private car, improved journey time reliability for all modes, improved road safety within the city, improved air quality and the environment, and improved accessibility to transport for all.’