Labour unveils plans for ‘universal free bus travel’ for all Scots

The Scottish Labour leader was making the keynote address to the party's Spring conference in Dundee. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
The Scottish Labour leader was making the keynote address to the party's Spring conference in Dundee. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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Ambitious plans to deliver “universal free bus travel” for all Scots have been unveiled by Labour leader Richard Leonard in a keynote address to party members.

He also set out ambitious plans to target Scotland’s biggest landowners at Holyrood to deliver “land justice.”

The Scottish Labour leader was making the keynote address to the party’s Spring conference in Dundee today (Saturday 9th March).

He pledged that if becomes First Minister labour would extend the current national free bus travel scheme to under 25s - with a long term goal of universal free bus travel.

Mr Leonard warned that communities across Scotland have been left “stranded” by a fall in the number of bus routes, while fares have been rising.

“The deregulation of bus services has failed us,” Leonard said today.

• READ MORE: Labour revives anti-austerity agenda as Richard Leonard says party offers ‘vision of hope’

“Fleet sizes are down. Staff numbers are down. Journeys are down. Down by ten per cent in the last five years alone.

“But today, to those communities that have seen their much-needed routes removed, I say that Scottish Labour has an answer.

“We believe that clean, affordable and reliable bus services are the mark of a civilised nation.”

Labour has already set out plans to take bus services back into public hands inn Scotland and will seek to do this through the Transport Bill which is currently going through Parliament.

“We will fight to change the law to put our bus services back in public hands,” Leonard added.

“That way we can run them, not for profit, not to line the pockets of shareholders, but to give the public a service that we will all benefit from.

• READ MORE: Scottish Labour can’t rely on voter ‘disillusionment’ with SNP, says Richard Leonard

“It will allow us to standardise fares throughout Scotland and ultimately, my aim, of providing a universal public service

Leonard also pledged to take on the “lack of justice” in land ownership patterns across Scotland.

“Our land justice reforms will take on the vested interests,” he added.

“Like the Danish billionaire, Anders Povlsen and the Duke of Buccleuch.

“We will use the powers of our Parliament already has to deliver Land Justice, the cause the SNP has ignored.”