A leading environmental organisation has welcomed Aberdeen City Council’s plans to take over the First Bus fleet.
The Evening Express previously reported how city leaders were calling for talks over a potential buyout of the transport firm after the company’s share price dropped sharply as a result of Covid-19.
First Aberdeen was put up for sale in 2019 but was taken off the market earlier this year.
Now, Friends of the Earth Scotland has welcomed the possibility of a buyout.
Air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said public transport is an essential service and should not be ‘an opportunity for profit’.
He added: “It’s great to hear Aberdeen City Council’s bold and ambitious plan for taking over the First fleet.
“Our buses need to be run in the interests of passengers, not profit. A council-run bus service could genuinely serve everyone in the city, while investing profits back into improving the service rather than being paid out to corporate shareholders.
“Transport is the most polluting sector when it comes to climate change. To meet the climate targets set at local and national level, we need to change how we think about the way we move around.
“Public transport is an essential public service and should not be an opportunity for profit.
“An affordable, accessible, and reliable bus service means that people don’t need to drive private cars – it will improve air quality, reduce climate emissions, and make the city easier and safer to navigate for all road users.
“The scale of the financial support the Scottish Government is currently handing over to operators, with no conditions attached, coupled with the need to urgently change our transport system, should be pushing every council to consider this option.
“Hopefully, Aberdeen can lead the way in transforming the ownership of public transport.”
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Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing said: “We welcome Friends of the Earth Scotland’s endorsement of our proposal to purchase First Bus Aberdeen and run a not for profit municipal bus company.
“The council has been responsible for bringing hydrogen buses to the city and we have established hydrogen refuelling stations in order to meet the climate targets set locally and nationally and we are keen to build on these initiatives.
She added: “We have long recognised that affordable public transport is essential if we are to realise our ambitions and retain our place as the energy capital of Europe and we would be willing to work with Friends of the Earth Scotland and other like-minded organisations to try and establish a municipal bus company for the people of Aberdeen.”