Fuel subsidy cuts could hit public transport

Bus subsidy cuts could affect services
Bus subsidy cuts could affect services

PUBLIC transport in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth could be set to take a hit from Scottish Government budget cuts.

That’s the claim from Ronnie Park, the managing director of First Glasgow, who contacted Labour Central Scotland List MSP Mark Griffin over his concerns that the SNP Government’s changes to the Bus Service Operator’s Grant (BSOG) will result in services being reduced and prices increased all across Glasgow and the surrounding areas.

The BSOG gives bus companies a 70% rebate on fuel duty. However, Mr Park said that the Government intends to reduce that grant by 20 per cent by changing the method used to calculate payments.

Mr Park said: “Decisions taken by the Scottish Government to make substantial cuts to the funding it provides Scottish bus operators has triggered fare rises and service cuts across Scotland.

“Unfortunately, similar action at First Glasgow is unavoidable. Such are the significance of the Scottish Government cuts that the business simply cannot absorb them without looking at service cuts or fare rises.

“No final decisions have been taken yet as to exactly what action we will take, however, I can assure customers that we will do everything we possibly can to ensure that any changes are kept to an absolute minimum.”

MSP Griffin said: “People in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are already suffering from an inadequate bus service, and with this 20 per cent cut to the operators grant being handed down by the SNP Government, the service may very well get worse.

“The Government should be working with bus companies to try and ensure a better service for people in our communities, not cutting their operators grant by 20 per cent at short notice.”

However, the changes and cuts were backed by Transport Minister Keith Brown.

MSP Brown said: “Despite the challenges of real terms Westminster cuts, bus funding for concessionary travel and grants such as BSOG have been maintained over the spending review period at just under a quarter of a billion pounds (£248.5m).

“When BSOG payment calculations change in April 2012, we will be in a better position to encourage fuel efficiency and redistribute benefits, principally to rural areas. We would expect the bus industry in Scotland to act responsibly whenever they are looking to set bus fares.”

For more info, visit www.transportscotland.gov.uk/news/BSOG-Bus-Grant-changes.