Local transport authorities have been given the power to provide and regulate local bus services in the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 which received Royal Assent on 15 November 2019.

Available at www.legislation.gov.uk, the Act includes: proposals for a National Transport Strategy; a proposed ban on double parking and pavement parking; the introduction of low emission zones (LEZs); and a provision for local councils to introduce a workplace parking levy.

Of particular interest to operators, however, will be the section devoted to and providing for local authorities to run bus services.

The Act provides that a local transport authority may, if they consider it appropriate to do so, make a Bus Services Improvement Partnership (BSIP) plan in relation to the whole or part of their area.

Those that choose to do so must set out for the area: an analysis of the local services; policies relating to those services; and objectives to be met within the period as regards the quality and effectiveness of the local services provided.

A BSIP must also describe the proposals for obtaining the views of users of local services in the area about how well the plan and the partnership scheme are working, and specify how the plan is to be reviewed and the dates by which reviews are to be completed.

If a local transport authority makes a partnership plan, it may make such further partnership schemes relating to the whole or part of the area of the partnership plan as it considers appropriate.

It should be noted that a BSIP scheme can only be made if the local transport authority is satisfied that it will help implement the BSIP plan or its more general policies, and will improve the quality of local bus services or reduce or limit traffic congestion, noise or air pollution.

Where a proposed BSIP plan would have a significantly adverse effect on local bus service competition, and that effect cannot be justified by reference to the benefits to be gained, then it cannot go ahead.

Last reviewed 3 December 2019