Thursday 16 December 2021

North East joins Scotland-wide campaign to bring buses back into public ownership


Pressure for public control and public ownership of buses grows as new campaigns launched in the Glasgow city region, Tayside and the North-East


Scotland’s campaign for better buses continues to grow today as anti-poverty groups, environmentalists and trade unions join forces to launch new regional campaigns for better buses in three of Scotland’s biggest city regions.

Today three ‘Take Back Our Buses’ campaign videos are released, outlining the case for change in the Glasgow city region, Tayside and the North-East, and starting to build the pressure on all political parties in the run-up to the local election next year.

 Prior to the pandemic bus passenger journeys in Tayside and the North East fell by a quarter in the last five years, while in the South West and Strathclyde they fell by 12%. However, in Edinburgh and the Lothians where buses are council-owned, bus passenger use has bucked the downward trend.

The three regional ‘Take Back Our Buses’ campaigns call on local politicians in all parties to commit to using the new powers in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 – for public control and public ownership of bus services – in their manifestos for local elections next May.  

This follows Greater Manchester’s decision earlier this year to become the first UK city region to commit to re-regulating its bus network since 1986, as the only way to deliver a fully-integrated and affordable public transport network which serves all the region’s communities.

The campaign is supported by unions such as Unite the Union who represent bus workers, as well as by Trades Councils across Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Engender, Common Weal, Get Glasgow Moving, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, One Parent Families Scotland, the Young Women’s Movement and the Scottish Pensioners Forum. 

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) is running the ‘Our Climate Our Buses’ campaign as a key driver of its wider campaign for a Just Transition.


Secretary of Dundee Trades Union Council Mike Arnott said:

 “A good bus system is vital to connect our communities and for travel to work, not to mention the importance of reducing emissions in a just way. Yet in the North-East, Tayside and Central, bus passenger journeys fell from 66 million in 2008-09 to 48 million in 2019-20. Down 24% in the last five years. We are calling time on the deregulation and privatisation that has caused this and for all parties standing in next year’s elections to commit to change.”

John Clark of Aberdeen Trades Union Council said:

 “Prices are increasing and passenger journeys are falling just at the time when we need to be offering alternatives to car travel and affordable means for communities to stay connected. The 24% fall in passenger journeys over the past five years needs to be reversed and we will only achieve this through publicly controlled and owned buses within an integrated transport system.  Recent cuts to bus services are significantly impacting upon young and old alike that rely on these buses for getting to medical appointments, college, work, shops and visits to families and friends.  Essential workers on shift work across the north east of Scotland are being hampered by bus services cuts which limits their options to do their jobs and forces them to rely on more expensive means of transport.”

Ellie Harrison of Get Glasgow Moving said:

“During COP26 in Glasgow, delegates were given free multi-modal travel passes for use on any bus, train of subway, making it easy and affordable for them to get around town. If we’re serious about tackling climate change and chronic poverty and inequality in our region, then we need to roll-out fully-integrated and affordable public transport for everyone. This can only be done by re-regulating the private bus companies, so we can cap fares and plan bus routes to connect seamlessly with other transport modes.”

Dougie Maguire of Unite the Union which represents drivers and other bus workers said:

 “Key workers operating our bus system need decent work, fair pay and the satisfaction of delivering a service that meets the needs of our communities and can play its part in tackling climate change.  The current system allows private bus companies to cut routes and raise fares, with no regard for the communities that rely on them. We are clear that only an integrated and publicly owned service can deliver the change we need.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland's Transport Campaigner, Gavin Thomson said:

“Transport is our biggest source of climate emissions and a privately-run bus sector which constantly cuts routes, hikes fares and ignores passengers, is taking us in the wrong direction. If we run our buses in the public interest, we can create a comprehensive bus network that takes cars off the road, reduces emissions and improves air quality. Every party standing for the local elections in 2022 needs to have a plan for using the new powers and taking back our buses.”


👉Watch and share the videos;

👉Use the e-action form below to contact your local Councillor to demand they take action to secure the world-class public transport network the north east deserves, and share with your networks;