Joe has welcomed the publication of Iain Gray MSP’s Bus Regulation Bill.
The Bill was published on Thursday 4th December and within hours it had received the required level of cross party support to proceed to the next stage in Parliament.
Joe has led a number of campaigns against bus cuts in Kilwinning and along with local MSP Margaret McDougall invited Iain Gray to speak to residents in Whitehirst Park and Bourtreehill last year when the consultation on his bill was running.
Gray’s members’ bill would give more power to local authorities in running bus services in their area including the power to bundle services.
Joe has previously used the profitable number 11 service and the daytime 27 service, which Stagecoach cut to one bus every hour in 2012, as an example of how bundling could improve local bus services. He has said, "To protect the 27 service, which serves a community need, from cuts you could bundle these two services and If a bus company wanted to run the number 11 service then they would also have to run the 27 service on the terms set out in the bundled contract."
Currently, bus operators choose the most profitable routes, leaving local authorities to subsidise the remaining services. In the case of North Ayrshire subsidised services are delivered through the transport authority, SPT.
Speaking after the bill was published Joe said,
“I have seen first-hand how bus services are a vital frontline service.”
“When Stagecoach cut the frequency of their daytime 27 service elderly residents were telling me how difficult it was for them to maintain their independence. Local groups told me how they had lost members and had to change meeting times as some could no longer attend.”
“I had to fight to protect the 320 service in Kilwinning from a similar cut whilst plans to cut bus services in Bourtreehill were shelved following a public backlash and local bus services in areas of Stevenston, like the Ardeer, are atrocious and don’t meet the needs of the local community.”
“There are examples like these of poor local bus services and cuts all across the country."
“Deregulation has clearly not worked. It has let down bus passengers and the time has come to change that. This bill would mean more power for authorities over local bus services which will mean much better services for our communities.”
“I just hope that the SNP will work with Scottish Labour this time to improve local bus services having blocked similar proposals by Labour in the last Parliament.”