A Labour government in Scotland would introduce free bus travel for all, its leader Richard Leonard has pledged.
And to help “jumpstart” struggling bus services – which have been hit by falling passenger numbers – he called on the Scottish Government to extend free bus passes to those aged under 25.
Mr Leonard told the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee: “If the SNP don’t do it, we will do it on day one of an incoming Scottish Labour government.”
But he added: “Then we will go further. We will build a proper bus network that connects Scotland’s communities.
“Labour will build a free bus network to serve the whole of Scotland.”
His speech however contained no mention of how much this would cost to deliver, how it would be funded, or when it could be up and running.
Mr Leonard announced the new policy at the conference in Caird Hall as he urged party members to stay true to Labour’s socialist roots.
With UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn looking on, he described himself as being “proud to be on the left of politics”.
Labour has “not come through the adverse electoral storms of the last decade to simply sit back and give up before nationalism,” Mr Leonard said.
He went on to tell activists the party should “stand by our socialist ideals”, as it had a “vision of the future worth striving for”.
He insisted: “People are turning to us again to fight their corner. And under my leadership, fight it we will.”
But his speech came at a time when Labour across the UK has come under fire for its stance on Brexit and for failing to tackle anti-Semitism within the party.
With several English MPs having quit UK Labour to form The Independent Group, Mr Leonard said this was “a cause for regret”.
He criticised the UK Government for the “calamity” of its approach to Brexit negotiations, as he insisted Labour had been “trying to steer a course through this mess”.
And he stated: “If we cannot force Theresa May to change course and accept our credible alternative, let me be absolutely clear, Labour will back a public vote.”
Mr Leonard was clear that “Brexit is not the only challenge we face” as he pledged the next Labour government at Holyrood would “build a more cohesive society by ending austerity”.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard with Jeremy Corbyn at the party’s Scottish conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)
But he warned his party it must not rely on public disillusionment with the SNP to win back power in Scotland.
Scottish nationalists have been in power in Edinburgh since 2007, with Mr Leonard telling delegates: “We need an awakening.
“We have the vision of how much better our society could be.
“And I tell you that we cannot rely on an automatic disillusionment with the SNP to do the job for us.”
Shona Robison, the SNP MSP for Dundee City East, however claimed Labour were “completely out of touch”.
She said: “They’re more interested in fighting each other rather than fighting for the people of Scotland.
“In recent weeks Labour voted against an extra £729 million for Scotland’s health service and an £8 billion investment in Scottish education. They can’t match the SNP’s ambition when it comes to delivering for public services.
“Both Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard seem willing to crash us out of the EU in just 20 days’ time – throwing thousands of jobs on the scrapheap and damaging our NHS.
“And they’re content to team up with the Tories to deny Scotland the right to choose its own future, while we get hammered by Westminster governments we didn’t vote for.
“No wonder Labour are trailing a distant third in Scottish politics.”