Chapter 15 Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity
Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity is a diverse portfolio with responsibility for Scotland's physical and digital connectivity and infrastructure; energy policy and delivery; City Region and Growth Deals; and implementation of the Islands Act. The portfolio works with the public, private and third sectors and local communities, including Transport Scotland, the public agency responsible for public transport services, infrastructure and the trunk road network in Scotland. It also entails the sponsorship of a number of public bodies. The Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity portfolio budget focuses on investment in transport and digital connectivity, and in activity that supports the energy sector and the transition to a low carbon economy.
Key Inequalities of Outcome
Within the budget for the Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity portfolio, investment is targeted to ensure key sections of the population - such as older and disabled people - are able to access sustainable and reliable transport options, to support those on lower incomes to ensure they have access to essential services, and to address the impacts of rurality and remoteness.
Key Strategic Budget Priorities
The priorities of the Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity portfolio contribute to all of the National Outcomes that form part of the National Performance Framework.
Our overarching priorities are to ensure sustainable economic growth across Scotland's communities, and that all of Scotland has the transport and digital infrastructure needed to deliver real economic benefits and improved connectivity.
Transport infrastructure is a key area where improving connectivity between our cities, rural, and islands communities and centres of economic activity is vital to boosting productivity and competitiveness.
We will deliver a sustainable travel network - supporting better journey times and transport connections - with reduced emissions and greater quality, reliability, accessibility and affordability.
We will enable and encourage sustainable development, enterprise, and investment in key transport infrastructure, providing vital transport links to improve physical connectivity, economic productivity, the environment, public health and social inclusion. This includes the provision of lifeline ferry services to Scotland's Islands Communities.
We are investing in low carbon transport and are promoting walking and cycling in order to deliver our climate change ambitions and tackle poor air quality in towns and cities.
We are committed to ensuring that all homes and businesses in Scotland have access to superfast broadband infrastructure and to investing in, and supporting, broader digital connectivity to enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
We will lead delivery of the vision set out in Scotland's Energy Strategy of a flourishing, competitive, local and national energy sector that delivers secure, affordable, clean energy for Scotland's households, communities and businesses.
Equality Implications of the Scottish Budget 2019-20
The portfolio recognises the impact that spending and budget decisions have on particular groups, individuals and communities - particularly those who depend on public transport and who may be affected by its cost.
We recognise that bus services are very important for, and are used more frequently by, women, older people, younger people and those on lower incomes. We are maintaining our budget for the Bus Service Operators Grant in 2019-20 (£54.2 million) which subsidises all services. This makes the network more extensive and fares lower than would otherwise be the case.
We will continue to provide free bus travel to those who need it most through the National Concessionary Travel Scheme, at a cost of around £200 million in 2019-20. The National Concessionary Travel Scheme currently provides free bus travel on local or Scottish long-distance buses for Scotland's older people aged 60 or over and disabled people, including eligible veterans. We will also introduce free travel for a parent or carer travelling with an eligible disabled child aged under five. The National Concessionary Travel Scheme has had positive impacts on the physical and mental wellbeing of cardholders, reducing isolation and helping disabled users to access employment and educational opportunities. In 2019, we will work with others to develop a pilot scheme of free bus travel for young modern apprentices, and will work with stakeholders to consider the options to provide free bus travel to recipients of the new Young Carers Grant.
In 2019-20, we will maintain our commitment to invest £80 million annually in measures to build an active nation. This significant investment will create safe, segregated walking and cycling routes in towns and cities across Scotland. In tandem with the public transport system, this will ensure that cheaper, healthier and greener forms of travel are available to more people.
We will encourage behaviour change by offering support to a wider range of public, third and community sector organisations to promote active and sustainable travel for everyone. In addition, schemes such as interest free e-bike trials and loans, subsidised bike hire and cycle training underpin our responsibility to make active travel a viable alternative for communities across Scotland.
We will significantly expand Electric Vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across Scotland, including the development of charging hubs at strategic locations and in areas with complex charging issues, such as tenement housing areas. We will also accelerate the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) through our Low Carbon Fund which helps businesses and individuals adopt ULEVs. We will invest a total of £50 million in these and related measures to improve the accessibility and affordability of ULEVs for those looking to switch to these types of vehicles.
In 2019-20, we will invest in major infrastructure projects to improve Scotland's road network. We want to improve accessibility on the trunk road network - including upgrading footways, and widening and upgrading existing pedestrian crossings. We will allocate up to £2 million in 2019-20 specifically for this purpose which will help to improve access for disabled road users and pedestrians. Through our Roads for All Forum, we will continue to engage with particular communities to ensure equality implications are considered in this work going forward.
We will continue our significant investment in Scotland's railways with an investment of approximately £650 million during 2019-20. Through our funding of the ScotRail franchise, we will continue to deliver a range of fare offers to customers on all routes. This includes reduced fares for job seekers and the newly employed. Our funding also includes the minor works budget which provides £350,000 a year to improve facilities across the network, thus removing barriers to travel and promoting confidence in the use of rail by disabled people and people with reduced mobility.
The ScotRail fleet is undergoing a significant refurbishment programme or is being replaced, at a cost of £475 million over the franchise term. This is to meet current accessibility standards ensuring improved facilities for all customers. This will deliver a fully compliant ScotRail fleet in advance of the 2020 accessibility deadline for Persons of Reduced Mobility (PRM) regulations. In addition, by the end of March 2019, Scotland will have 45 more fully accessible stations than it had in 2005, benefiting disabled rail users.
In 2019-20, we will continue to support the Scottish Disability Equality Forum to develop and host the accessible travel hub and engage with disabled people in line with our Accessible Travel Framework. In 2019-20, we will look to modernise delivery and governance of the Accessible Travel Framework by producing an annual delivery programme that will focus on a range of issues, including tackling hate crime. We will also further develop the Thistle Card, which advises transport staff of an individual's disability and additional support needed. This will make using public transport easier for disabled and older people.
Access for our island communities is important in addressing the impacts of remoteness and rurality, reflecting the lifeline role played by Scotland's support ferry networks.
We are committed to maintaining and improving lifeline ferry services that play a key role in supporting the economic, social and cultural development of island and remote mainland communities. We continue to invest in our ferry services and infrastructure, including in the delivery of new ferries and improvement of piers and harbours infrastructure. In 2014-15, we established an Accessibility Fund of £0.5 million and in 2019-20, we will continue to use this across the ferry network to improve facilities and access at harbours for those with accessibility issues.
We will protect Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) fares on the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services routes, and seek to reduce passenger and car fares on ferry services to Orkney and Shetland. This ensures that people who live, work or visit our island communities can travel on lifeline ferry services affordably. Older people aged 60 or over, disabled people and young people aged 16-18 also benefit from reduced ferry travel costs through national and local concessionary schemes.
We will continue to fund the Air Discount Scheme and the lifeline Public Service Obligation air services to Barra, Campbeltown and Tiree. This will ensure that those living in some of the most remote parts of Scotland continue to benefit from reduced air fares.
In 2019-20, we will spend £28.2 million to improve digital connectivity across Scotland. We have already exceeded our target under the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) Programme to deliver access to fibre broadband to at least 95 per cent of premises by the end of 2017 - through Gainshare and other approaches - and we will continue to deliver the final phase of the DSSB programme. Work will also begin deployment of our Reaching 100 per cent (R100) Programme to deliver access to superfast broadband to every home and business in Scotland, alongside other aligned interventions as necessary to ensure all of Scotland benefits from our investment. We will also start work on a programme - developed and delivered in conjunction with the four UK operators - to address gaps in 4G mobile coverage. Our approach seeks to ensure that everyone in Scotland can benefit from digital connectivity. This addresses social isolation and helps wider government priorities, such as closing the attainment gap; providing improved access to the labour market and opportunities to develop skills; access to public services such as digital health; and supporting new business start-ups and entrepreneurialism. It also seeks to help to close the digital divide for remote, rural and Islands areas, and for lower income families and communities.
In 2019-20, we will support the implementation of up to £12 billion public, private and third sector investment programme under the Energy Efficient Scotland Route Map and Transition Programme to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland's domestic and non-domestic buildings. This will help to tackle one of the causes of fuel poverty, which has greater impacts upon older people, disabled people and low income families, and also improve business competitiveness. We will continue to support onshore and offshore wind, hydro, wave and tidal energy projects that have the potential to curb global emissions, and support the development of low carbon infrastructure projects and continued delivery of the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP). All of this will help deliver the Energy Strategy's vision of a flourishing, competitive local and national energy sector, delivering secure, affordable, clean energy for Scotland's households, communities and businesses, and also create STEM related (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) job opportunities of higher value.
Funding of around £200 million has been allocated in 2019-20 to continue the commitment to the City Region Deals already agreed and we will continue to progress the deals in development. We have committed to 100 per cent coverage of Scotland with growth deals and we are also working to deliver regional deals across a number of areas. We are collaborating with local authorities as deals are developed and delivered to ensure maximum impact for particular communities, maximising the impact of the deals and addressing inequalities both within and between regions in Scotland.
This assessment of the 2019-20 Transport Infrastructure and Connectivity budget highlights its positive impacts to create a fairer, more equal Scotland, and reflects our on-going commitments to improving physical and digital connectivity and to providing a sustainable, low carbon transport system.
Email: Liz Hawkins