MORE councils must be allowed to run their own bus networks to end the transport “crisis”, it is claimed.

The call comes from transport campaigners and trade unions as the Holyrood consultation about the future of buses closes.

Friends of the Earth Scotland claim the sector is in “crisis”, with routes slashed by one fifth by private operators in the last ten years.

Meanwhile, it says fares have risen by 50 per cent over the same period.

The Scottish Government plans to enable more local authorities to drive their own bus services, allowing local transport authorities to take networks into public ownership.

The move comes as the public increasingly turns to the car over the coach, as revealed in Transport Scotland figures.

The number of passenger journeys has dropped by 80 million in a decade.

Emilia Hanna of Friends of the Earth Scotland said: “The bus sector is in a shocking state and needs a shake up, because buses play such a vital role in tackling air pollution, climate change, and transport poverty

“With the right type of regulation and support, our bus networks can be expanded and fleets modernised, making the bus the smart choice for everyone.”

Edinburgh’s Lothian Buses, which remains in public hands, is held up as an example of how to get local transport right.

Ellie Harrison of Get Glasgow Moving said her city is “being held to ransom by private bus companies”, adding: “Glasgow must be given the support necessary to set up a bus company like Edinburgh’s successful and popular Lothian Buses.”

Earlier this year it was claimed that one million people struggle to access key services or workplaces for the want of affordable transport.

Dave Watson, head of policy and public affairs at Unison Scotland, said: “Many of our members across Scotland find that even if there is a bus service near them, it can be expensive and often unsuitable for shifts starting very early or finishing very late.

“The success of Lothian Buses shows a way forward for re-regulation of our buses, with greater public ownership and control, helping to deliver the high quality, affordable, environmentally friendly bus services that people need.”