Keep us on track as we build a fairer, greener and better transport system - Lorna Slater

The pilot scheme removed peak rail fares and shifted to off-peak fares all dayThe pilot scheme removed peak rail fares and shifted to off-peak fares all day
The pilot scheme removed peak rail fares and shifted to off-peak fares all day
​When I look back on the time that the Scottish Greens spent in government, one of the proudest achievements was the pilot scheme we launched to remove peak rail fares and shift to off-peak fares all day.

​It means that, for example, when we get a peak train from Edinburgh to Glasgow we are paying around half of what we used to, and are no longer having to worry about which trains we get back.

Since coming into force last October, the trial has already supported hundreds of thousands of commuters through the cost of living crisis and helped to open up our country and make rail the natural choice for longer journeys.

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Every pound that we save on our train fares can help with heating, eating or any of the other expenses that have piled up for households as a result of the Tory-inflicted cost-of-living crisis.

With the pilot set to end at the end of June, the Scottish Government has an important decision to make about the future of the scheme.

I hope that they seize the opportunity to make it permanent and ensure that even more people in Edinburgh and beyond are able to feel its benefits and change long-standing habits.

There’s an important principle that goes right to the heart of it. Why should somebody have to pay almost twice as much for a train ticket because of the time they travel?

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Most workers and students don’t have any say in when they have to start work or go to study, and it is unfair if they are made to pay more because of something they have no control over.

That is a big part of why the change was supported by rail unions and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, who called peak time fares an “unfair tax on workers”.

It’s not just about the impact on individuals, as important as that is. Changes like this are also crucial for our environment.

There is no way for us to hit our climate targets without reducing the numbers of cars on the road. But that isn’t going to happen by itself. We need well funded, reliable and accessible alternatives. One of the best ways to do this is by cutting the cost of public transport.

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When we delivered free bus travel for everyone under 22 there were some who doubted it would work. Now, two years later, and with over 100 million free journeys having been taken, you couldn’t imagine us going back. I feel the same way about peak rail fares.

With a new First Minister in Bute House, I hope that he will make the change permanent and keep us on track as we build a fairer, greener and better transport system for Scotland.

Lorna Slater, Scottish Green Party co-leader

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