Local MSP for the Linlithgow Constituency, Fiona Hyslop, used a speech in Parliament to highlight the problems currently facing her Constituents who want regular, reliable, accessible bus services during a recent Access to Bus services debate in Parliament.
Fiona called for a radical approach to help people use bus services, with park and bus rides at Heartlands M8 and the new Winchburgh Junction at M9 and town services for commuters to cut car use in order for us to reach Net Zero. She also highlighted Brexit causing a severe shortage of bus drivers and praised the pressure from the public for forcing West Lothian Council to emergency-fund the extension to the 21 service, to provide a connection between Blackridge and Bathgate via Armadale, to mitigate the impact of the changes announced by McGill’s which had resulted in Blackridge no longer having access to any bus services.
“I have had serious concerns about bus service issues in West Lothian for some time. West Lothian is a semi-rural area – people here rely on public transport for access to basic amenities, health appointments, and their work. It was important that the concerns of West Lothian bus users were heard load and clear in Parliament.
“West Lothian is also particularly well-placed for development of infrastructure that supports our drive to Net Zero – it has many commuters currently travelling by car to Glasgow and Edinburgh, and people in the towns in my Constituency need alternatives to car travel for their commutes.
“I have raised my concerns with commercial bus operators on numerous occasions, but they are hindered by the impact of Brexit on driver recruitment.
“I highlighted efforts to return powers to Local Authorities via Section 34 of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019 and that West Lothian Council were using the Scottish Government’s Bus Partnership Fund to scope priorities for subsidised support but in the meantime people can’t get to their work or to hospital easily by bus. We need progress on the local Council’s actions in relation to those powers but we need interim solutions now, and I will be meeting the Transport Minister about how best to ensure local Councils make use of their powers and our strategic transport needs when I meet him soon.”