BUS services in Renfrewshire could return to council ownership amid claims passengers are being let down by the current system.

Proposals to allow local authorities to run their own services – reversing deregulation introduced in the 1980s – were backed by MSPs last week.

Currently, the only municipal bus company in Scotland is Lothian Buses, which operates in Edinburgh.

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At last week’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, the Scottish Government’s Transport Bill was amended to allow councils to run bus services directly or through an arms-length company.

And the news has been welcomed by local politicians who believe deregulation has negatively impacted on services.

Councillor Andy Doig, who represents Johnstone North, Kilbarchan, Howwood, and Lochwinnoch, hit out at bus firm McGill’s for “failing” passengers.

He told The Gazette he has received complaints from constituents about the number 38 service and added that passengers in Kilbarchan are often faced with hour-long waits for a bus. 

Cllr Doig said: “My message to McGill’s is that this is happening far too frequently and, indeed, should not be happening at all.

“McGill’s are meant to be a professional bus company, yet this happens to my Kilbarchan constituents time and time again – and I want answers why.

The Gazette: Lothian Buses is the only municipal bus company in Scotland currently Lothian Buses is the only municipal bus company in Scotland currently

“What we have now due to deregulation in McGill’s is a private monopoly which does not effectively serve Renfrewshire’s village communities, so we are as well with a public monopoly which does.”

McGill’s has slashed services in Renfrewshire in recent years and controversially raised prices on the popular 23 and X23 route, which serves passengers in Erskine, Inchinnan and Renfrew.

Ralph Roberts, McGill’s managing director, said: “We would like to apologise to those affected by the recent disruption to our 38 service.

“This has been caused by staffing and engineering problems, which we are working hard to resolve.”

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said “transparency will be key” if local authorities are to run their own bus services.

A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We will consider any future plans if the appropriate legislation is passed.” The Transport Bill will return to the Scottish Parliament for final approval.

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