A bus company has written to politicians across Tayside urging them to take tough action on congestion and pollution.
Stagecoach East Scotland has called on MPs, MSPs and councillors in Dundee and Perth to put buses at the heart of their plans to improve air quality ahead of UK Clean Air Day on June 21.
According to Stagecoach, morning peak journey times from Walnut Grove into Perth city centre have increased by 33% since 2010 and afternoon peak journey times from Ninewells Hospital to Dundee city centre have increased by 20% in the last 10 years.
Between Broughty Ferry and Seagate, Dundee morning peak journey times have increased by 31% over the same period in the last 10 years and some bus journey times in Perthshire are up to 48% longer during evening peak than at other times of the day.
Stagecoach East Scotland managing director Paul Thomas said: “This is not specifically about Stagecoach, or any other bus company – it’s about the impact of congestion on bus passengers and other road users in the area and the situation simply cannot continue if we are to continue improving the local bus network and improving the local environment.
“Our passengers are paying the price for short-sighted policies that have led us to this point – we urgently need politicians to take practical action to get our towns and cities moving again.
“Buses are key to delivering this – effective bus networks can boost the local economy, improve traffic flow, reduce air pollution and help improve air quality.
“We are playing our part by investing in improvements for customers including in digital technology, new routes and new vehicles, but we need politicians to play their part to help buses flourish. All of the tools exist for them to take action now.”
Traffic congestion impacts bus customers in a number of ways, including journey times, reliability, satisfaction levels and the cost of their ticket.
Stagecoach has revealed that a 10% decrease in operating speed leads to an 8% rise in operating costs – and, despite “attempts to protect customers as much as possible”, these increased costs “invariably” push prices up for passengers.
This can lead to fewer people taking the bus, potentially resulting in even more cars on the road.
In its letter, Stagecoach has offered to meet with elected members to talk through the local issues, traffic hotspots and potential solutions, including changes that can be made to road infrastructure and layout, traffic management systems and priority schemes.