Local authorities have been given the power to run their own bus services, the Scottish Government has confirmed.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said the new powers, secured through the Transport (Scotland) Act, would be able to “revitalise” bus services to suit local communities.
Section 34 of the Act gives local transport authorities power to run local bus services in a way they see fit.
It was previously prohibited to do so under the Transport Act 1985 but Ms Gilruth said the update will give councils the flexibility they had been asking for.
Councils will not have to run services themselves and can instead opt for a partnership or franchise approach.
Ms Gilruth said: “The act was designed to help make Scotland’s transport network cleaner, smarter and more accessible than ever before.
“By giving local authorities the flexible tools they need to respond to their own transport challenges, we can deliver a more responsive and sustainable transport system for everyone in Scotland.
“I recognise that not every local authority will want to run their own bus services – some may opt for a partnership or franchise approach.
“What’s key is that local authorities will soon have greater tools at their disposal to revitalise bus services where required.
“By investing over half-a-billion pounds in long-term funding for bus priority infrastructure, coupled with the rollout of free bus travel to under-22s, and significant investment to encourage a shift to zero-emission buses, we’re responding to the climate emergency by placing buses at the front of our just transition to a net zero society – supporting our world-leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.
“I would encourage all local transport authorities to consider using this power and the full range of tools available to them under the Act, to ensure that everyone has accessible public transport, regardless of where they are in Scotland.”