Why can't our transport system be better?

Strategic thinking
Our transport network has been neglected. The current powers of the Scottish Parliament are too limited to allow us to consider all elements of transport policy. For example, the Scottish Parliament has responsibility for passenger trains, but not the rails on which they run. We need Independence to take responsibility for all aspects of transport policy; road, maritime, rail, and air, to come up with a comprehensive and integrated policy which will address Scotland’s needs.

We will take a strategic overview of all forms of transport to develop a National Transport Plan to determine short, medium, and long term priorities to ensure that investment in our transport network will both meet Scotland’s social and economic needs and respect our environment.

Our proposals for Strategic Transport Authorities, acting as joint boards on behalf of groups of Local Authorities, will enable the needs and challenges of individual localities, travel to work areas, and wider regions to be efficiently addressed. It will be a key objective of the Strategic Transport Authorities to improve public transport and reduce car dependence, thus addressing traffic congestion and the social, economic and environmental damage caused. We will continue the road-building programme we inherit and will remain attentive to concerns over road safety and strategic demands on the network throughout our term in office.

Scotland’s railways
The Westminster—driven fragmentation and privatisation of our railways has been damaging for our economy and difficult for commuters. It’s time for Scotland to take back control of the railways. There are three elements to this strategy. First is tackling our rail infrastructure. The privatisation of railway lines and signalling has been acknowledged as a failure even by the UK government. We believe that control and funding of the rail infrastructure in Scotland should be through a publicly accountable Not for Profit Trust.

Second is our railway services. The Scotrail franchise, which provides passenger train services across most of Scotland, is due for renewal, and we believe that it too should be taken under public control through a Not for Profit Trust. Third is integration. When we have regained public accountability and control of our rail network, we will re-integrate Network Rail, the Strategic Rail Authority, and the Scotrail Franchise within a Scottish National Railway Authority. This new body will be able to provide the holistic approach necessary for the successful running of our railways.

Bus re-regulation
The SNP will bring forward legislation to allow the regulation of buses and ensure that service provision matches need and is of high quality to make public transport an attractive, reliable, and affordable option.

Maritime matters
As an island nation with a rich maritime history and numerous island and archipelago communities, sea links are vital. The opening of the Rosyth-Zeebrugge ferry link has been a major boon for the Scottish economy. We will seek to ensure the success of that service. We will seek to enhance it and to create new links where a market exists. Moreover, we will look to maximise our geographic location by encouraging and promoting maritime initiatives, such as the structures into hub ports.

Connecting Scotland with the world
In order to compete in the global economy, Scotland must become more accessible. At the moment most of our important international destinations are accessible only through London.

More direct flights to a greater diversity of strategic world and European destinations are vital for all sectors of the economy. Identifying the market for and supporting the development of new routes is a vital strategic step to attracting carriers to operate more flights from Scottish airports. We will work in partnership with industry using a Route Development Fund to establish and develop routes to our key markets.

Our rural areas
The state of rural roads is a key concern in our rural areas and the SNP’s commitment to Not for Profit Trust alternatives to the private financing of road building projects will mean cheaper finance and greater opportunities to renew our rural roads network. The SNP will not use PFI-privatisation so will therefore put more money into rural roads and less into the pockets of private contractors.

The maintenance of direct and affordable air, sea, and rail links is a crucial element in developing Scotland’s rural economy. The SNP will continue to work to promote the development of Highlands & Islands airports and maintain key connections. Our proposal for Strategic Transport Authorities will allow a holistic approach to be taken to improving transport links across rural Scotland, including our long-standing commitment to the abolition of Skye Bridge tolls.

Click image to view a video clip