Bus priorities

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I’D like to congratulate Alastair Dalton for his insightful and positive commentary on why buses deserve priority against other road traffic (Inside Transport, The Scotsman, 19 February).

As he points out, the more buses are given advantages on congested roads, the more people will want to use them.

Currently 80 per cent of all public transport journeys made in Scotland are made by bus – some 420 million trips every year. And yet with buses often competing with other road users, congestion is getting worse, bus travel times are slowing and that makes it harder to make travelling by bus more attractive.

Research shows that journey times have increased by around 12 per cent over the last five years, and to deal with congestion and ensure buses can meet their timetables, we’ve also seen 10 per cent more buses on the road than we would necessarily like to have.

We need to speed up those journey times to ultimately make our services more attractive to passengers and as Alastair points out, improving bus priority measures is key. This means faster journeys, more passengers and a more efficient operation. Additionally, stronger services allows bus operators to make more investment in frequency, vehicles and fares.

Cars generate 60 per cent of CO2 emissions from UK road transport, compared with just 5 per cent from buses and one bus has the potential to take 70 to 75 cars off the road.

By working together as an industry with our partners in local and national government to make bus travel more attractive, the cumulative benefits are amplified as road congestion is eased, journey times reduced and pollution cut. And as Alastair rightly says, one simple part of the solution is to give the bus more of an advantage on the road.

Fiona Kerr,

Managing Director, First Bus Scotland

Red flag to a bull

I see Edinburgh is threatened with “progress” in the shape of a 20 miles per hour limit.

Has Derek Mackay thought this scheme through? Are our super efficient trams to be pedestrianised, will we need more buses to provide the service we enjoy now and will commuters have to leave home earlier to get to work in time?

Why not go the whole hog and employ some one to walk in front of one’s car with a red flag. At least this would have the benefit of lowering the unemployment statistics!

William Bell

Park Avenue, Edinburgh

I note that transport minister, Derek Mackay is encouraging local authorities to impose ever more 20mph zones in their towns and cities!

What can we expect as a next step? A requirement for a man (or woman) to walk in front of a vehicle waving a red flag?

GM Lindsay

Whinfield Gardens, Kinross

Missing banks

I fully support Michael Baird’s comments (Letters, 25 February) and position regarding the reduction of banking hours in Bonar Bridge, and indeed in Sutherland generally. As a member of the community council I am aware of the inconvenience the loss of banking hours has caused to businesses and individuals.

On a personal basis, as a long standing customer of the Bank of Scotland (over 50 years) and treasurer of a local group, the loss of banking hours is a considerable disadvantage as while I could use on-line banking for some services, I have no way of accessing my pay or pension without travelling in excess of 30 miles. Maybe my pension provider would not appreciate my asking to be paid in cash on a monthly basis, delivered to my address as the bank is unable to!

Norman MacDonald

Cherry Grove, Bonar Bridge, Sutherland

Fiscal fascination

I have mixed emotions over the agreement between Westminster and the SNP on the fiscal framework. On the one hand my “No” vote in the Referendum was not coupled with a desire for more devolved powers which I did not want, whilst on the other hand at least Scotland is no worse off following the deal.

However, the desperation with which the SNP insisted on no detriment to the current financial position in Scotland confirms two points to me. First the SNP are well aware of the substantial subsidy which Scotland receives from rUK purely because we are part of the Union even if they are not prepared to admit it. Second, because they know privately that even with these additional powers they will not be able to grow the Scottish economy at a greater rate than the rUK and amortise that subsidy, they were not prepared to take any risk at all.

This, in my opinion, is an implicit acceptance by the SNP that without the subsidy an independent Scotland would have been an economic disaster.

Raymond Paul

Braid Farm Road, Edinburgh

Colin Hamilton remains transfixed in his fantasy world. (Letters, 26 February).

Barnett works like this: If England receives 5 per cent year-on-year enhancement, we receive a straight population ratio of that, which is worth only 4 per cent to Holyrood, as we spend some 20 per cent per head more than England. On a block grant of £25 billion, that 1 per cent would represent a shortfall of about £250 million. Does Mr Hamilton agree, with Barnett secured, that will continue under Calman and Smith – or in what way does his calculation differ? He wouldn’t wish to have readers of The Scotsman letters page mislead, would he?

Douglas R Mayer

Thomson Crescent, Currie

EU agenda

How gallant of Andrew Gray (Letters 26 February) to leap to Jane Ball’s defence. However, in turning this discussion round to his anti EU agenda, he does precisely what he accuses me of and simply fails to catch the drift of the exchange. Put simply, my point was that Ms Ball had reconstructed comments made by Bill Forsyth in order to present Scotland in the worst possible light – nothing more.

Unlike Mr Gray, I won’t presume to assume whether or not he has any pride in Scotland, but his other assumption cannot go unchallenged. For the record, I am proud to be Scottish and European, but not proud to be British. I used to be, but not any longer.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Elizabeth Marshall ( Letters 26 February) is absolutely correct to highlight the fact that EU accounting is, and has been irregular for years. Who in their right mind would invest in an organisation that has failed to have its accounts audited for 21 years, and had an unexplained “loss” of €5.9 billion last year?

Indeed the EU’s financial arrangements almost makes the SNP’s fiscal position look sound!

Hamish Alldridge

Pittenweem, Fife

Legal equality

This week’s report by the Sutton Trust on the educational backgrounds of 1,200 people working in professions, including the law, suggested that “your chances of reaching the top in so many areas of British life are very much greater if you went to an independent school”.

We are the leaders of the Faculty of Advocates (the Scottish bar) and the Law Society of Scotland (the solicitors’ profession in Scotland).

None of us attended a private school.

Our two organisations are committed to promoting fair access to the legal profession. We engage in various initiatives, such as the popular MiniTrials and Street Law projects, which are directed to promoting an understanding within schools, in particular state schools, about the legal system and the legal profession. We believe that nobody should be deterred from pursuing a career in the law in Scotland by reason of educational background.

James Wolffe, QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates; Gordon Jackson, QC, Vice-Dean of Faculty; Alan Summers, QC, Treasurer of Faculty; Kirsty Hood, QC, Clerk of Faculty; Mungo Bovey, QC, Keeper of the Advocates Library; Christine McLintock, President, Law Society of Scotland; Eilidh Wiseman, Vice-President, Law Society of Scotland; Lorna Jack, Chief Executive, Law Society of Scotland

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