February 01 2023

  • 109m extra bus journeys were made in Scotland compared to the previous year.
  • The figure is nearly double that seen in 2020/21
  • The average number of bus journeys made per person in Scotland is 43.

Over 100m passengers returned to use the bus in Scotland in the past twelve months, according to new figures released by the Department of Transport.

DfT’s annual bus statistics revealed that between March 2021-22, the average number of journeys made by bus in Scotland was up 109m to 234m journeys made across the country.

The average number of journeys made per person in Scotland also increased to 43 from 25 twelve months previously.

Commenting on the news, Paul White, Director of CPT Scotland, the trade association for the bus and coach sector, said:

“It is really encouraging to see passengers returning to bus after a difficult period for bus patronage across Scotland. Catching the bus remains the most popular form of public transport in Scotland, with passengers remaining connected with local communities as well as work and leisure opportunities.”

Although encouraging news for the bus sector, passengers face real uncertainty as operators and local authorities wait to see to what extent the government will support the sector from April. Should the Network Support Grant Plus conclude while many of the challenges facing the sector remain then the outcome could be service reductions of up to15% across the country.

Speaking ahead of the Stage 1 parliamentary debate on Scotland’s Budget for 23-24 on Thursday 2 February, White continued:

“While we welcome both NSG and NSG Plus, the continuation of a short-term approach to funding makes it difficult for Local Transport Bodies and operators to effectively plan and invest, holding back the bus sector from reaching its potential.

“If NSG Plus isn’t continued, or replaced with a longer-term support scheme that reflects ongoing challenges, some areas may struggle to protect existing services and market new ones, leading to significant economic, health and environmental benefits being lost as a result.

“This is why the bus sector is calling on the Scottish Government to recognise the levelling up potential of the bus sector by moving away from piecemeal support to the proper, long-term cost-effective funding of passenger bus services.”