May 17 2021

Jeremy Tinsley, General Manager at CPT Scotland, writes this week’s blog post on what impact the election could have on the bus and coach industry.

For those who have been casting an eye north of the border, it will come as no surprise that the SNP have been returned to power in Scotland following this year's election. Nicola Sturgeon’s party secured 64 of the 129 seats in Scottish Parliament, falling one seat short of an overall majority.

Consequently, the SNP requires support from a second party in order to pass legislation, set budgets, and ward off any potential no-confidence motion. The Scottish Greens are likely to fill this role in some form.

The Greens share the SNP’s ambitions for Scottish Independence and have previously supported SNP budgets in exchange for Green Party policies -most notably the free travel scheme for under 19s, subsequently extended last year to under 22s. The Green party manifesto pledges a further free travel extension  to under 26s and expresses a desire for free public transport for all.. The Scottish Greens also support demand management measures such as the workplace parking levy and congestion charges alongside an overall reduction in car use.

In terms of commonalities between the parties, both the SNP and the Greens propose accelerated transport decarbonisation.

The Greens call for the removal of support for new vehicles that are not fully electric from next year, however the SNP go further, stating the majority of fossil fuel buses will be removed from public transport by 2023. To meet such a commitment would mean replacing over 2000 buses within the next two years - no small task!

The supporting secondary legislation for the 2019 Transport (Scotland) Bill, delayed due to COVID, will now be drafted, debated and agreed. This secondary legislation will be key in the delivery of the new regulatory landscape for bus. Will we see the Green’s desire for municipal bus operation seek to reduce important checks and balances in order to encourage local authority uptake?

Shortly into the new parliamentary session we expect the Scottish Government to introduce its previously announced £25m tourism recovery programme and CPT Scotland continues to press for coach to  have access to  the scheme. This, and further direct support for coach will be priorities for our first meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism  - following their appointment this week.

Bus and coach look to remain firmly on the political agenda for this parliamentary term. CPT Scotland will look to maximise all opportunities to foster a supportive policy environment for our members.