>> 23 February 2010

Gordon MSP Alex Salmond and SNP Gordon Westminster Candidate, Richard Thomson, have welcomed a new funding agreement between the Scottish Government and the bus industry.

The agreement will see the concessionary fare scheme maintained and with effect from 1 April 2011, extended for the first time to include injured services veterans. It will also see new incentives for operators to operate low carbon vehicles, including ‘hybrid’ buses.

The increased funding package was agreed following discussions between the Scottish Government and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). Funding for the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), which benefits passengers by helping support the bus network and keeping fares affordable, will increase to £66.5 million in 2010-11.

Speaking after the agreement was announced, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"The Scottish Government is committed to supporting our bus industry, and this agreement with CPT will deliver another three years of significant investment. This substantial outlay is intended to help the industry drive down fare costs, encourage more routes and enable more older and disabled people to use these important services."

Commenting afterwards, Mr Salmond said:

"This agreement means that older and disabled people will continue to be able to travel for free throughout Scotland - at any time, on any bus routes, for any number of journeys.

"In these challenging economic times, it is important to protect passengers by minimising fare increases. Reducing emissions from transport is key to achieving our world leading climate change targets and a shift to low carbon buses will make an important contribution to reducing emissions."

Mr Thomson added:

“A great many people have benefited from the concessionary fares scheme since it was introduced. I’m particularly pleased to see that this is now going to be extended to include veterans.

“Free bus travel has been an enormous success since it began. With this agreement, not only will people continue to benefit in the years ahead, but fares will also be kept as low as possible for everyone else.”

A review of the concessionary fare scheme was completed in May 2009. It looked at how the scheme had operated since its introduction in April 2006, with a view to investigating what further improvements could be made.

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