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Legal insights & industry updates

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Local authorities given flexibility to operate their own bus services

Local authorities in Scotland have been given new powers to own and operate their own bus services, with the aim of local communities having access to sustainable bus networks.

The powers, which came into force on 24 June 22 under provisions of the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, usher in a change to existing legislation which has prevented local authorities from running such services since 1985.  Development in Scotland's long-term bus infrastructure is generally considered key in respect of reducing emissions. 

There will be no obligation on local authorities to operate such a service themselves, with the option to instead develop a partnership or franchise agreement with third-party providers.  The Scottish Government is expected to develop secondary legislation by the end of 2023 to allow bus franchising and partnerships.         

Since 1985, local transport authorities have been prevented from running services, but this has been reversed by changes to existing legislation.


public sector, transport, local government