Scots public transport ‘needs extra £1.6bn a year’

New research commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland claims that 22,000 jobs could be directly created in Scotland by investing in public transport, plus hundreds of thousands more indirectly in areas like manufacturing and infrastructure construction.

The report “On the Move: Investing in public transport to meet carbon targets and create jobs” outlines the additional investment it believes is needed from the Scottish and UK Governments to increase public transport passenger numbers to reduce climate emissions.

The research estimates that an additional £1.6 billon investment is needed per year to meet the Scottish Government’s target of reducing car traffic by 20%, and highlights the economic and social benefits this will bring.

The report also states:

  • Scotland needs to move around 6 billion passenger kilometres per year travelled by car to public transport (and walking and cycling) by 2030 to meet its carbon targets
  • This will require an 80% increase in distance travelled by bus and tram and a more than doubling (110%) of rail passenger km in Scotland by 2030
  • Shifting journeys to public transport can reduce greenhouse emissions in Scotland by around 1.2 million tonnes by 2030
  • To achieve traffic reduction, it’s essential that measures are brought in to discourage car travel such as a national system of road pricing
  • The public transport infrastructure projects planned in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) need to be completed by 2030, much sooner than currently scheduled, to meet this target

The report’s findings build on existing work published earlier this month by the TUC which looked at the investment needed in England (excluding London) and Wales.

Gavin Thomson, Transport Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, so we urgently need to change the way we get around.

“This report shows that with the right investment to make that happen, we’ll also reap the benefits of significant job creation, a boost to the economy and reduced social isolation.

“The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car travel by 20% by the year 2030. In transport terms, that’s right around the corner – but we’ve yet to see any ambition in how they’re going to achieve this. This report shows us the way forward.

“Along with investment, we need to address the big disparities in the costs of different kinds of transport. Motoring costs have been kept artificially low for years while bus fares rise above inflation every year.

“This imbalance is taking us in the wrong direction. If we make public transport cheaper than cars, we can create jobs, strengthen our economy and meet our climate commitments.”