Historically, Scotland relied on waterways like rivers, lochs, and coastal routes for transportation. Canals such as the Caledonian Canal and the Forth and Clyde Canal played a vital role in trade and regional connectivity. During the Industrial Revolution, railways emerged, facilitating faster movement of goods and people across the country.
In the 20th century, road networks expanded, making private vehicles and buses popular. Scotland’s iconic bridges, like the Forth Bridge and the Erskine Bridge, symbolise efforts to improve accessibility. Today, Scotland has a well-developed road network, rail connections between major cities, extensive bus services, airports, and ferry services for international connections.
Graeme was Minister for Transport from 2021 to 2022, having previously served as Minister for Parliamentary Business and Veterans from 2018 to 2021.
During his time as Minister for Transport, he worked on the roll-out of free bus travel for under-22s and plans to reduce car travel to meet climate targets.
Powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament:
The Scottish Parliament possesses the power to legislate and make decisions regarding transport policies, including local transport, bus services and the regulation of specific aspects of the railways. It can make impactful choices that affect the development and improvement of infrastructure, public transportation, road safety and environment considerations.
- Rail services: franchise management and setting policy objectives, but infrastructure decisions remain with the UK government and Network Rail.
- Bus services: authority to regulate and govern bus operations through legislation, oversee franchise management, allocate funding and subsidies to support services, promote accessibility and integration within the bus network. It also ensures inclusive and accessible bus services, fostering coordination with other modes of transportation to create a comprehensive and efficient public transportation system.
- Local transport: sets policies, allocates funding, and regulates local transport, aiming to improve connectivity, promote active travel, and coordinate transportation modes in Scotland. Collaboration with local authorities and consideration of environmental factors are key aspects of its responsibilities.
- Ferries: regulates and manages ferry services in Scotland, including franchise management, funding, infrastructure development, and enhancing connectivity and service quality.
- Transport planning and strategy: Develop and implement long-term transport strategies and plans for Scotland, considering connectivity, sustainability and economic development, it promotes seamless integration between different modes of transport to improve the overall efficiency and convenience.
- Road safety and regulation: enacts legislation, manages road infrastructure, and collaborates with stakeholders to ensure compliance and promote awareness in Scotland.
While the Scottish Parliament has substantial powers in these transport related areas, there are limitations to its authority in certain matters.
Powers reserved by the UK Parliament:
While the devolution allowed for many responsibilities to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the UK parliament still has authority over certain aspects of transport policy and regulation. This includes international transport such as international aviation agreements, shipping regulations and cross border transport policies.
Strategic transport planning and cross boarder rail services including the operation and regulation of cross-border rail services, such as those between Scotland and England, are subject to UK Parliament legislation and agreements. The UK parliament also has authority over large scale infrastructure projects that span multiple regions or have significant national impact, such as high-speed rail; maritime safety and security; the transport of radioactive material; and driving and vehicle certification.
What Graeme can do:
- Advocate for better transportation infrastructure: Graeme can support initiatives and projects aimed at improving roads, bridges, public transportation and cycling networks in your area.
- Address local transport issues: can assist with specific transport issues faced by constituents, such as inadequate bus services, road safety concerns or insufficient cycling infrastructure. Graeme can liaise with relevant authorities and agencies to find solutions. In the case of Angus South, Graeme has been dealing with many issues related to Stagecoach over the past year, to try and help to improve the bus services, and shed light on the many problems Angus South is facing.
- Promote sustainable and eco-friendly transport: Graeme can support policies and initiatives that encourage sustainable modes of transport.
- Engage with transport agencies: Graeme can voice the concerns of his constituents and make sure they are represented in transport-decision making processes.
What Graeme cannot do:
- Override UK transport policies: Graeme does not give the authority to directly influence matters under the control of the UK Parliament, such as aviation, shipping and major railways that cross national borders.
- Control local transport budgets: Graeme cannot control it at the local level, but as budget decisions are often made by local authorities and councils, he can advocate for increased funding and influence the allocation of resources to prioritise transport improvements within the constituency.
- Directly manage transport operations: Graeme cannot manage them, but he can work alongside relevant authorities to potentially influence policies and decision-making.