22 to 28 May is Scottish Bus Week, a celebration of Scotland’s bus services. The week aims to promote and raise awareness of bus and coach services and encourage those who have not considered using the bus before to do so.
Despite the latest annual transport statistics showing bus passenger numbers across Scotland struggling to recover from the pandemic, we are fortunate in East Lothian to generally have a network of good, reliable bus services. That said, I do appreciate that some parts of the county, especially smaller, more rural areas, still have limited or no access to bus services.
What is certain is that our local bus operators continue to do a great job, providing innovative services and caring for their customers. I visited one of these operators, Prentice Coaches Ltd, recently to discuss the sector’s recovery from the impact of the pandemic and rising costs, and how parliament can help promote improvements in local bus services.
Unfortunately, despite the excellent work undertaken by Prentice and other operators and councils, including East Lothian, there has been a sustained decline in bus passenger journeys, with the number having reduced by half since 2007. Ministers must act now to halt that decline by providing additional support to keep our bus network operating, including capping fares to make bus travel more affordable.
As well as political support, a change of public attitude is also needed. That is why I am encouraging people to take a fresh look at what local bus services have to offer. Find out more at www.lovemybus.scot.
The provisional proposals for redrawing Scottish Parliamentary boundaries suggest the removal of Prestonpans from the East Lothian constituency. I believe this ignores the town’s natural community links with the rest of the county, would be bad for local people and organisations and must be reconsidered.
The proposals are out for consultation and you can have your say at https://consult.boundaries.scot/reviews/2nd_review_scottish_parliament_boundaries/.