New figures paint “grim picture” of Scottish transport

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Transport: 10% fewer journeys were made by bus. 

Call for action as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. 

26th February 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Greenhouse gas emissions from cars in Scotland continued to grow over the last five years, according to official statistics.

The Scottish Government figures revealed that emissions from transport increased by 3.35% over that period, accounting for 37% of the country’s total emissions.

Road transport accounted for 69% of all transport emissions, with almost seven in ten Scots making their daily commute by car or van.

The number of vehicles using Scotland’s roads also grew, with all-time high of almost three million cars now registered in the country.

Meanwhile, the number of journeys made by bus has fallen by 10%, from 421 million to 388 million.

Rail journeys saw a hike of 13% and cycling saw a slight upturn in popularity, though fewer people used bikes to commute to their workplace.

Gavin Thomson, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the figures painted a “grim picture” of Scotland’s transport networks.

He added: “Years of splurging billions on newer and bigger roads has come at a huge cost to our climate, public health and the rest of our transport system.

“The continuing freefall of bus passenger numbers should be keeping politicians awake at night. Buses must be treated as the vital public service they are. Increasing access to free bus travel, and helping councils who want to run their own bus services can boost public health, connectivity and tackle climate change.

“As budget negotiations continue, opposition parties must prioritise investments that will bring down emissions and press the government to halt reckless motorway spending, diverting the cash saved into improving our bus network.”
Mr Thomson called for a range of measures to improve Scotland’s transport system, including improving public transport, making bus travel free for as many groups as possible, and building a joined-up cycling network.

“The political capitulation to cars must stop in this year’s budget,” he added.

Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: "Transport is Scotland's biggest source of damaging climate emissions and these figures are continuing to go in the wrong direction, with public transport down and aviation and motor traffic up.

“In order to get people out of their cars, and encourage them to use other modes of transport, we need greater investment in cleaner forms of transport to tackle climate change, clean up our dirty air and enhance public health. We need to see really clear shifts in the final budget and the Infrastructure Investment Plan to support this.”

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said bus journeys had been declining in popularity since the 1960s.

He added: "We have committed to bringing forward transformational funding of more than half a billion pounds to create a Bus Partnership Fund for local authorities, and to roll out infrastructure for the trunk road network, to prioritise buses in congested areas.

"This is in addition to over £260m we spend every year to keep fares at affordable levels and providing free bus travel to older and disabled passengers."