Please see below responses to the questions you have raised in your email:
- Where did the idea initially come from?
- Who was the main group intended to benefit from such change?
- If the trial is successful would there permanently be no peak fares?
- If so what would happen with rail cards that require a minimum fee?
- Why was it decided to boast the usage of trains instead of another form of transportation such as buses?
- What are your personal thoughts on the plan?
- Were the effects (positive or negative) that the trial would have on students considered?
1. Where did the idea initially come from?
The ScotRail Peak Fare Removal pilot was first considered as part of an exercise looking at Scottish Government’s interventions on Cost of Living and then put in place as part of the Budget 2023-24 process in December 2022.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney made the announcement in his 2023/24 budget statement, to identify if the pilot encourages significant reduction in car use in a move that will make rail travel more affordable and accessible for the duration of the pilot.
2. Who was the main group intended to benefit from such change?
This is a bold initiative, the first of its kind in the UK, which is possible to deliver because we have taken ScotRail into public ownership. The purpose is both to find out whether such a measure helps move people from car to rail use for commuting and also to help passengers facing cost of living pressures. This will help a wide range of people.
We know that price and simplicity is crucial for people when choosing how to travel. Many passengers will enjoy significantly reduced fares, with fares that are available all day, every day, which are intended to attract more people out their cars and onto public transport. This accords with our Programme for Government commitment to encourage a shift towards sustainable transport.
3. If the trial is successful would there permanently be no peak fares?
The pilot will operate between 2 October 2023 and 29 March 2024. It will then be evaluated, using best practice, before any decision to reintroduce it is taken.
4. If so what would happen with rail cards that require a minimum fee?
ScotRail is removing the timing restrictions on the off peak fares and products which it sets and controls so that off peak tickets are valid to travel all day for the duration of the pilot. Under current UK Government railway law and governance, rail cards and the terms of their use are the responsibility of the GB body, Rail Delivery Group. The Scottish Government does not have powers to change these arrangements.
5. Why was it decided to boast the usage of trains instead of another form of transportation such as buses?
There is already a broad package of long-term investment in bus, together with the enhanced suite of options for local transport authorities to improve bus services according to their local needs, including formal partnerships, franchising and running their own bus services.
Extending free bus travel to all children and young people under 22 is making public transport more affordable, helping to improve access to education, leisure and work, while enabling them to travel sustainably early in their lives. Indeed, more than a third of the population, up to 2 million people, including all children and young people under 22, eligible disabled people and everyone aged 60 and over, can benefit from free bus travel.
The Network Support Grant continues to be available in 2023-2024 with the aim of keeping services more extensive and fares more affordable.
6. What are your personal thoughts on the plan?
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance, the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
The Scottish Government does not hold the information you requested because Minister’s personal opinion is not documented within our files.
As such, I hereby provide you with formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.
7. Were the effects (positive or negative) that the trial would have on students considered?
We will be considering the impact on the scheme on a range of groups of people. While the scheme is not specifically targeted at students many of whom already benefit from concessionary bus travel, we will pick up impacts through our extensive survey work.
The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
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