25% increase in vehicles on Scottish roads in only ten years

Although there has been an increase in people using public transport in Scotland, there has also been a huge increase in vehicles on the roads, according to the newly published Scottish transport statistics.

Between 1999 and 2000, motor vehicle ownership increased by 3% to 2.2 million, the highest ever, but there was also a 4% increase in passenger journeys on both trains and local bus services, to 67.5 and 431 passenger journeys respectively, although the level is still 30% lower than ten years previously. The greatest increase is in air travel, with a 5% rise in the year up to 2000, but a 71% increase between 1990 and the millennium.

“With the volume of traffic on the UK’s roads predicted to rise by 53% over the next 30 years, we are acting now to improve public transport and promote better choices,” said Scottish Transport Minister Sarah Boyack. In conjunction with the main public transport providers, the Scottish Executive has launched a ‘Learn to Let Go’ campaign to encourage travellers out of their cars, and Boyack also attributed the rise in public transport use to investment, including the extension of concessionary travel and improving the frequency of services.

“Investment in modern, comfortable and fast public transport is crucial to make public transport an easy choice and not a last resort,” said Boyack. “We are now playing our part and have committed record sums – an extra £500 million over the next three years – to make public transport an attractive choice and to ensure that we put in place the infrastructure and services to develop a truly integrated transport network.”

Also published this week was Trends in Local Bus Markets, which shows improvements to Scottish bus services and predicts further improvements in the future. Local authority bus services have been increasing over the past 20 years, as has the use of these services, says the report. However, further incentives are needed, including new pricing and ticketing initiatives and improved information technology systems, as well as greater reliability and service frequency.

“Bus use varies greatly throughout Scotland,” said Boyack. “But the Scottish Executive is committed to ensuring people have access to frequent, reliable and affordable public transport no matter where they live. Our support for rural bus services through the rural transport fund is an indication of our practical support to rural areas.”

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