Transport Bill: Municipals could return to Scotland

Municipal bus operations could return to Scotland, according to a report in the Scotsman newspaper. This would remove a legislative stumbling block for Aberdeen Labour group’s plans to buy First’s Aberdeen operation (see B&CB 1534,
14 June 2019).

MSPs have voted to lift a ban on creating municipally-owned bus services, proposing to amend the Scottish Government’s Transport Bill to allow local authorities to run bus services directly or through an arms-length company.

Lothian Buses is the only municipal in Scotland currently. Its establishment pre-dates the 1980s deregulation and is owned by Edinburgh City Council, Midlothian Council, East Lothian Council and West Lothian Council.

The Bill is to return to the Scottish Parliament at Stage 3, so could as yet be overturned.

This follows last week’s news that Aberdeen’s Labour group is proposing a deal to acquire the fleet and King Street depot (B&CB 1534, 14 June 2019). This would see the area’s bus operations fall back in the hands of the local authority for the first time since the days of Grampian Regional Transport, an operation that formed the nucleus of FirstGroup when it was subject to an MBO in 1989.

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