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Call for single travel ticket to be created for Highlands public transport

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Liberal Dems have set out plans to improve public transport by empowering Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (Hitrans) with more funding to develop and operate its own integrated ticketing scheme.

Transport in the north, particularly connecting train, bus and ferry services have often been blighted by timetables not coinciding leading to long waits as well as passengers needing different tickets for the various modes of transport.

The Lib Dem candidate for the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat, Molly Nolan, said the plans would make it much easier to “use a bus, train and ferry to travel across the Highlands and Islands all with the one affordable smart ticket”.

The proposals will be included in the party’s manifesto for the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections and would see regional transport agencies such as Hitrans put on an equal footing to Transport for London.

It would allow Hitrans to – and other regions transport partnerships – to set routes, service frequency and bus quality standards, receive all fare income, and have borrowing powers.

Ms Nolan, said: “Travelling across the Highlands by public transport can be a nightmare. From lack of services meeting local needs to connections that make no sense, we have all been there.

“You can’t fix transport problems here from a desk in Edinburgh. That is why we need a radical shake up of the Scottish transport system by giving HITRANS real teeth.

“As we recover from the pandemic, now is the time to ensure our communities set the terms for investing and managing our transport services.

“Our plan will make it easier to use a bus, train and ferry to travel across the Highlands and Islands all with the one affordable smart ticket.”

The move has the support of the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, who said: “At the forthcoming election, Scottish Liberal Democrats will ask voters to back us to put the recovery from the coronavirus first.

“That means investing in the services that people rely on day-in, day-out like the health service, education and transport.

“It’s time to scrap the Thatcher-era rules that have left Scotland’s transport system clumsy, disjointed and outdated.

“With modern technology it should be possible to buy a ticket that allows you to get on a train in the Borders, zip up the east coast by bus and catch a ferry to the northern isles. Our plans will make that a reality.”

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