A PUBLIC meeting calling for better bus services in Renfrewshire is set to be held next month.

The Better Buses Renfrewshire campaign will be holding a meeting in Linwood’s Tweedie Hall on Tuesday, June 6.

The event, which has been organised by the Renfrewshire Labour Party, is being held in response to a “significant reduction in bus services and increased fares by McGill's Buses".

Councillor Chris Gilmour, transport spokesperson for Renfrewshire Labour, said: “Renfrewshire residents have been living with a substantial reduction in bus services for nearly a month now and it’s not good news.

“Thirteen per cent of services have been cut, and the effects of these cuts have been felt in many households in Renfrewshire.

“Hospital patients, students, shift workers, pensioners, and shoppers have struggled to adjust travel arrangements in an attempt at maintaining their essential travel needs.

“This situation cannot continue, we must find another model for the bus transportation system as this particular model does not seem to be working for the most important element in the equation – the passenger.”

While Councillor Alison Ann-Dowling, deputy leader of Renfrewshire Labour, said: “The Better Buses Renfrewshire campaign is in response to McGill's making yet more cuts to many bus services and withdrawing some altogether, while fares go up.

“People are having to pay more for less service.”

Alison continued to say: “Renfrewshire Labour is campaigning for change. In addition to the Better Buses Renfrewshire public events, people can also sign the petition to save our buses by visiting BetterBusesRenfrewshire.co.uk.

“The Better Buses Renfrewshire public meeting is the first of many events open to all members of the public who are concerned about the state of public transport in Renfrewshire.

“We’re calling for no more blank cheques for private bus operators, a fares cap and for local buses to be run under local control.

“Keynote speakers at the public meeting will include Strathclyde Passenger Transport and Neil Bibby MSP, and Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart MSP has been invited.

“Renfrewshire Labour is calling on the Scottish Government to act as we don’t accept that the double whammy of more expensive but less reliable, fewer buses is good enough.”

Commenting on the campaign, Transport Minister Kevin Stewart said: "We’ve been engaging with industry through our Bus Taskforce and have been clear that the support provided to transport operators needs to evolve to ensure it remains fit for purpose and is sustainable in the long term.

“We are aware of the importance of bus services and are committed, in conjunction with operators and local authorities, to improving services to ensure everyone has accessible public transport regardless of geographic location.

"There is a broad package of long-term investment in bus, including through the Network Support Grant, Community Bus Fund, and for bus priority infrastructure, together with the enhanced suite of options for local transport authorities to improve bus services according to their local needs, including formal partnerships, franchising and running their own bus services.

"The Scottish Government is also progressing the Fair Fares Review to ensure a sustainable and integrated approach to public transport fares that supports the long-term viability of our public transport system as we recover from the pandemic."

CEO of McGill's Bus Group Ralph Roberts has said that they are committed to operating a great bus service in the area.

He said: “Labour is a political organisation who philosophically disagree with the deregulated bus market and there is nothing I can say on behalf of McGill’s that will change their mind.

“What I can say is that McGill’s has invested £55m in zero emission buses in Renfrewshire to decarbonise our operations. The covid pandemic has seen many businesses – and councils – having to adjust their finances accordingly, and we are not exempt from that unfortunately.

“McGill’s are committed to operating the best bus service possible in Renfrewshire and I would welcome the Labour Councillors and MSPs in Renfrewshire to do something about car and van based congestion, roadworks, uncontrolled parking and lack of bus priority. This would be the biggest benefit in delivering better buses for Renfrewshire rather than pie in the sky money tree based solutions.”