Revolution needed on public transport in the Highlands, says Labour candidate Marion Donaldson
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A public transport revolution is needed in the Highlands, according to Labour candidate Marion Donaldson.
She said: “Public transport is a lifeline for those who don’t drive or who don’t own a car, or for those who want a greener option, yet beyond the city boundaries of Inverness, bus and train travel is limited.
"Frequency and timing of services desperately needs to be improved and we need to link existing services to create a truly integrated public transport system.
"The cost of public transport needs to come down to affordable levels, and it has to be more easily accessible for people of all abilities, and those with small children.”
Ms Donaldson, who is contesting the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat in the Scottish Parliamentary elections, wants to improve what she described as "the poor transport connectivity in the Highlands, compared with the central belt".
"What we need here is nothing short of a public transport revolution," she said.
The 56-year-old said people in rural communities are being unfairly disadvantaged.
She claims the lack of integration in the transport system is "maddening" and says "simple tweaks" could make such a difference and help stimulate economic growth, unlock people’s access to training and learning and allow communities to connect.
Ms Donaldson stressed the Scottish Government has, since 2019, held the power to deliver a public bus service.
“It has obviously had other priorities, like splitting up the UK, on its mind,” she stated.
“But Scottish Labour will use those powers, we will bring buses back into public hands, and give start-up resources to councils and shareholders to run them. We will initially extend free bus travel to under 25s, and then make the buses free to use for everyone, running a fleet of low-emission vehicles, including hydrogen-powered buses, to reduce carbon emissions.
“There are many issues with public transport in the Highlands, but a Scottish bus network could be reinvigorated, and through common ownership, an affordable, integrated public transport system, suitable for local people's needs, can be developed, supporting the health of our local communities and safeguarding the future of the planet," added Ms Donaldson.