Make transport more affordable to curb Scottish poverty, says report

The Poverty and Inequality Commission have called for transport to be treated as a rights-based issue among their 13 recommendations

Scottish public transport needs to be made more affordable to prevent people on low incomes being excluded, a new report has warned.

The Poverty and Inequality Commission has urged the Scottish government and Transport Scotland to treat access to transport as a rights-based issue as it directly impacts on human rights like the right to work and to an education.

Overall, there were 13 recommendations from the working group following two workshops held by Poverty Alliance, Oxfam and HUG in Glasgow and Lairg in the Highlands to explore experiences of people with lived experience of poverty.

The resulting suggestions have called for a minimum acceptable standard to be established for access to public transport.

Transport should also be taken into account by the National Taskforce to take forward recommendations from the First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights Leadership, according to the commission.

They have called for compensation to be offered to bus and ferry passengers for delays in the same way that rail users already achieve refunds while other avenues to complain also figure.

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As for slashing the price paid by the poorest in society, recommendations to Transport Scotland included widening concessionary travel to include low-income workers starting new jobs as well as early starting peak travel to reduce costs of travelling to early shifts.

They were also urged to look further afield, including at how free travel is provided in Estonia as well as using technology to prioritise poverty reduction, for example, through ride-sharing apps.

The commission’s deputy chair Kaliani Lyle wants vulnerable people and those in poverty to be taken into account when it comes to designing new transport systems.

“For too many people unaffordable and unreliable public transport is locking them into poverty,” she said. “We heard about feelings of isolation from those without easy access to public transport, the anxiety of unreliable networks and high levels of stress that stems from high transport costs putting pressure on already stretched budgets.

“The commission’s recommendations set out actions that must be taken if transport is to fulfil its potential to release people from the grip of poverty, enabling people to access employment and education and improving quality of life for those on low incomes.”

Image: Craig Roberts/Flickr