New research has found that 22,000 jobs could be directly created in Scotland by investing in public transport, plus hundreds of thousands more indirectly in areas like manufacturing and infrastructure construction. 

The report, ‘On the Move: Investing in public transport to meet carbon targets and create jobs’, commissioned by Friends of the Earth Scotland, outlines the additional investment needed from the Scottish and UK Governments to increase public transport passenger numbers to reduce climate emissions.

It estimates that an additional £1.6bn investment is needed per year to meet the Scottish Government’s target of reducing car traffic by 20%, and highlights the economic and social benefits this will bring.

The report also states:

  • Scotland needs to move around 6 billion passenger kilometres per year travelled by car to public transport (and walking and cycling) by 2030 to meet its carbon targets. 
  • This will require an 80% increase in distance travelled by bus and tram and a more than doubling (110%) of rail passenger km in Scotland by 2030. 
  • Shifting journeys to public transport can reduce greenhouse emissions in Scotland by around 1.2 million tonnes by 2030. 
  • To achieve traffic reduction, it’s essential that measures are brought in to discourage car travel such as a national system of road pricing.
  • The public transport infrastructure projects planned in the Scottish Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) need to be completed by 2030, much sooner than currently scheduled, to meet this target.

The report’s findings build on existing work published earlier this month by the TUC which looked at the investment needed in England (excluding London) and Wales.

Gavin Thomson, Transport Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, so we urgently need to change the way we get around. This report shows that with the right investment to make that happen, we’ll also reap the benefits of significant job creation, a boost to the economy and reduced social isolation.

“The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car travel by 20% by the year 2030. In transport terms, that’s right around the corner – but we’ve yet to see any ambition in how they’re going to achieve this. This report shows us the way forward. 

“Along with investment, we need to address the big disparities in the costs of different kinds of transport. Motoring costs have been kept artificially low for years while bus fares rise above inflation every year. This imbalance is taking us in the wrong direction. If we make public transport cheaper than cars, we can create jobs, strengthen our economy and meet our climate commitments”.

Responding to the launch of the report, Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said: 

“Public transport is central to meeting Scotland’s climate change targets but cuts to rail infrastructure budgets and services mean we are a long way off from meeting these goals.

“We need far more ambition for our public transport including urgent large-scale investment to improve and expand Scotland’s railway. This will not only encourage people out of their cars and onto rail but will pay for itself by protecting and increasing jobs and through wider benefits to the economy, environment and wider society.

“With nationalisation of Caledonian Sleeper taking place in June, all of Scotland’s rail passenger services will be operating in public ownership. Without private sector profit going to shareholders, this will enable all funding to be invested directly in improving Scotland’s railway.”

ASLEF Scottish Organiser, Kevin Lindsay, said:

“The findings from this report follow on from the same conclusions that were reached in the joint rail trade union report ‘A Vision for Scotland’s Railways’.

“The evidence is overwhelming and the need for change and investment is urgent. Investing more in our rail services and rail infrastructure is a fundamentally important tool in creating a more environmentally sustainable planet and in the fight against climate change.

“This report is timely and serves as another reminder that investing in rail travel will also create employment, grow our economy, make people healthier and happier at the same as reducing emissions.

“We welcome its findings and appeal to the Scottish Government to listen and invest more in rail to attract more people and goods onto trains and reduce road travel, by making our rail services more affordable, attractive and accessible.”

Roz Foyer, STUC General Secretary, said:

“As well as tackling climate change, boosting the economy, and connecting communities, this report shows that investment in better public transport can create tens of thousands of jobs.”

‘On the Move: Investing in public transport to meet carbon targets and create jobs’ can be downloaded here: https://foe.scot/resource/report-on-the-move/ 

It was written for Friends of the Earth Scotland by Lorax Environmental.

The TUC’s report ‘Public transport for the climate emergency’, on which Friends of the Earth Scotland based their calculations, is available here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/news/public-transport-upgrade-net-zero-targets-could-deliver-ps52-billion-productivity-boost-2030