Local Bus Services in Scotland – Improving the Framework for Delivery

Closed 5 Dec 2017

Opened 13 Sep 2017

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


Bus services are important to the people of Scotland with around 400 million (three quarters of all public transport) journeys made by bus. However, the sector faces significant challenges with the overall number of passenger journeys decreasing and service cutbacks in some places which can leave communities without a public transport option. We believe that the legislative framework governing bus services requires improvement and are consulting on options to do that.

Fundamentally, buses are a local service and work best when they are tailored to meet local needs and circumstances. Central government sets the framework of options for local authorities (and RTPs, where appropriate) to improve bus provision. We argue that this framework can be improved to make it more flexible and viable, whether a transport authority wishes to pursue partnership working, local franchising or even running their own buses. 

We also believe that there is room for improvement in terms of the information that passengers receive to help them plan and make a bus journey. We have set out our intentions to require bus operators to share data openly. 

Why your views matter

To secure the bus services we need to help grow our economy, meet the needs of individuals and communities and improve our environment, requires a collective effort with contributions from central and local government, commercial and not for profit providers and individuals, communities and representative organisations. Legislation alone will not solve problems such as congestion or the challenge of providing cost effective public transport services in more sparsely populated or remote communities. But we believe legislation can help drive and support the actions that are needed, and that the current legislative framework can be improved.

The full consultation document sets out the context and detail of our proposals.  Your answers to these questions are important as we refine our thinking and consider the next steps. This consultation is your chance to have your say and influence the shape of the regulatory framework for bus. 

Download the consultation paper.

What happens next

The Transport (Scotland) Bill has been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. 

The Transport Bill is available to view on the Scottish Parliament website and you can read more about the Bill on the Transport Scotland website

The Bill will make Scotland’s transportation network cleaner, smarter and more accessible than ever before. It 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.

Proposed measures in the Bill include:

  • Providing local authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships (RTPs) with the flexibility to improve bus services through partnership working with operators or, where there is a good case for doing so, local franchising or running services themselves.
  • Enabling the creation and decriminalised enforcement of Low Emission Zones.
  • Prohibiting double parking and parking on pavements and giving local authorities the powers needed to enforce this important change.
  • 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 and wider regulation of road works.
  • Allowing RTPs to build up and carry appropriate financial reserves.
  • Giving Scottish Ministers powers to enhance Scottish Canal’s board structure.


  • Transport