SCOTTISH Labour is to launch a new campaign to re-regulate the bus industry and improve “declining” services over the next parliament.
The party accused the SNP of neglecting public transport and putting “profits before passengers” during nearly a decade in government.
Labour highlighted Transport Scotland statistics showing the number of bus journeys in Scotland fell 15% between 2007/08 and 2014/15, from 488 million to 414 million.
The same statistics show vehicle kilometres covered by Scotland’s local commercial and subsidised bus services fell by 66 million over the same period, from 397 million to 331 million.
The Bus Service Operators Grant has been cut by £13 million, or 20%, over the past five years while bus fares have climbed by 18% at current prices.
Labour said the SNP had supported regulating the bus industry before entering government in 2007 but had since taken no action.
The party also highlighted donations of more than £2 million to the SNP from Stagecoach owner Sir Brian Souter.
Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “One of the proudest achievements of the last Labour-led Scottish government was establishing the free bus pass for pensioners, making it easier for pensioners and disabled people to get around and interact with their community.
“But under the SNP we have seen a record of rising fare prices, plummeting passenger numbers and continued cutbacks from bus operators. The SNP have missed the bus on public transport.
“Labour would reverse the decline in bus services by re-regulating the bus industry and will launch a campaign for better bus services across Scotland.
“The SNP used to support this policy but dropped it just before they formed a government in 2007. As a consequence, passengers across Scotland have had to endure almost a full decade of deterioration in valued and vital bus services.”