THE Scottish Government announced in 2021 that one of its aims was to reduce private car mileage by 20% by the year 2030. However, this will never be achieved unless the policies it pursues through its agency Transport Scotland are radically altered.

As your recent article ("Routes facing cuts and fares hike as bus support slashed", The Herald, March 8) illustrates, the withdrawal of subsidies to bus companies at the end of this month whilst usage is still well below pre-pandemic levels can only result in a reduction in service levels and an increase in fares. As history has shown us, this is precisely the policy that has driven passengers away from bus services in recent years as private companies in pursuit of profit have reduce service levels at the same time as increasing fares.

More and more essential routes are having to be supported by councils and perhaps this is now the time for a franchising model similar to London to be introduced or, better still, councils to take over the running of services. Lothian Buses, still operated as an arms-length company by Edinburgh City Council along with East, West and Midlothian is a prime example of what can be achieved by a public-operated bus company where service frequency is, on the whole, much better than elsewhere and fares are cheaper, the city-wide single fare only now being raised to £2 this month, having been maintained at £1.80 for some considerable time.

Nor can the Government escape criticism for its attitude to Scotland's train services. Despite renationalising the ScotRail service last year it appears to be happy to continue endorsing the swingeing cuts to services introduced last year. Services in Fife have been reduced by 30% compared to pre-pandemic. Elsewhere, evening services in Ayrshire are the worst since steam days, those in Inverclyde the worst since before the electrification of the route in 1967 and some Glasgow suburban routes have endured a 75% reduction in evening services.

The Government boasted in 2019 that there were then 13 services an hour between Glasgow and Edinburgh during the off-peak hours. That has now been reduced to five plus a two-hourly service via Carstairs. In some cases there is the ludicrous situation where there is better service on Sunday evenings than there is during the rest of the week including Friday and Saturday.

These reductions in bus and rail services will do nothing to encourage increased use of public transport. Indeed, the opposite is probably going to happen, with car usage increasing rather than the opposite.
Ian Harrison, Glasgow

• GIVEN the dangerous (and well documented) condition of Glasgow's roads due to massive potholes, I had almost accepted the line that there was no money to carry out repairs.

In recent weeks, I have been angered and shocked to witness the major roadworks taking place on London Road in the east end. Miles of large and very expensive-looking new kerb stones are being fitted to renew the perfectly serviceable cycle lanes.

These lanes were seldom used, gathered litter and caused long tailbacks on this busy city artery, leading to increased levels of pollution.

Could the SNP council please explain this massive and total waste of public money, money which should have been spent on making Glasgow's roads safer?
J Carr, Glasgow

Beware rise of Russophobia

THE conflict between Nato and Russia currently centred in Ukraine may yet escalate to a world war, so it is important that public debate on the issue allows for compromise and the possibility of negotiation. Yet prevalent is a jingoistic rhetoric that attacks any attempt to see a different perspective as coming from "Kremlin briefings" (for example, Tom Cox, Letters, March 8).

This rhetoric makes direct comparison between Putin and Hitler and sees compromise as akin to Chamberlain's appeasement of 1938. Yet this comparison is historically inept. Russia is relatively much weaker than Germany, which was (and is) the powerhouse of Europe.

It should be possible to condemn the invasion of Ukraine whilst acknowledging that Russia has significant security concerns. We are not "Putin apologists" if we observe that US policy has been to ignore these concerns and even to use Ukraine as a proxy to weaken its old adversary. Indeed it is this policy which has strengthened militarist nationalism in Russia and hence Putin's position as leader.

When I see this vitriol directed against these small voices in the deafening conformity of Russophobia I am reminded not of 1938 but of 1914, when none could speak against the coming war without being labelled a "Kaiser-lover".
Allan Mackenzie, Cumbernauld

A plan for council tax

COUNCILS say they need more money to allow them to fund their various services, as well of course as their staff salaries and pensions, and are now issuing their council tax bills for year 2023/2024.

If a property is occupied by only one person, the bill is discounted by 25 per cent, presumably to reflect acceptance that one person will make less use of the council’s services than would two, three or more occupants.

If that is correct, is it not simply logical and reasonable that the bill should have a supplement for properties with more than some agreed number of occupants, say three or four, whilst continuing with any current discounts, reliefs and exemptions, or is that politically rather than economically unacceptable?
Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop

SRU should allow inquiry

THE SRU’s treatment of the Scottish international rugby player Siobhan Cattigan and her family before and after her death is, according to many reports, nothing short of disgraceful ("SRU board chair backs work on Cattigan case", The Herald, March 3).

The allegations surrounding how she was managed and medically treated together with how the SRU allegedly behaved towards her family after her death more than merit an independent review/inquiry, however the powers that be have declined several requests to hold one.

They have made several utterances since her death in November 2021 but have declined the scrutiny of an independent inquiry. Why?
W MacIntyre, Dunlop

Latin lover

REGARDING the recent correspondence on Latin: Having been a Latin scholar at school I recite every day "amo amas amat amamus amatis amant" to my wife to let her know I love her.
Brian Alan Bateman, Howwood

Read more letters: Scots bus routes face cuts and fare hikes as support is slashed


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