The Scottish government has been urged to cut costs on train travel with the aim of getting Scots to ditch their cars in order to cut emissions.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats want train cards to be open to all travelers, which would reduce the cost of a train ticket by a third.
Those who already qualify for a card would see the cost of train travel cut in half according to the party’s proposals, which are built on a model already in force in London and the south-east of England.
It comes as Abellio ScotRail’s contract expires in March, with the franchise due to be nationalized under the Scottish government.
In December, ScotRail announced that passengers would be affected by the largest rate hikes in nearly a decade.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has said the Scottish government’s commitment to decarbonization cannot be taken “seriously” as rail prices continue to rise year on year .
Cole-Hamilton said: “It is difficult to take the Scottish Government’s commitment to decarbonization seriously as the most environmentally friendly form of public transport increases in price with each passing year.
“Scotland’s transport emissions are stubbornly high. They have not changed since the 1990s. One way to deal with this problem is to get people off private cars, domestic flights and our railways. But that won’t happen if the costs don’t add up.
“That’s why I want the rail cards to be open to everyone, built on the model that already exists throughout London and the South East. That would mean you can get a third of the price of a ticket on most routes, with the reduction reaching 50% for those who are already entitled to a train pass.
“I also want the government to redouble its efforts to open or reopen roads to communities that demand them. These are serious, ambitious and credible proposals to boost rail transport. It would be good for our environment and good for our economy too.
‘From proposals to make all new public sector vehicles electric at the end of support for the expansion of Heathrow Airport, under my leadership it is the Scottish Liberal Democrats who are showing real leadership regarding the climate emergency, and not the heavy and slow SNP / Green. coalition.”
A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: ‘We are always keen to explore new ways to attract passengers to rail services, but initiatives such as this rail card would require significant funding to make them viable.
“As we have said several times recently, we are focused on bringing rail back to a sustainable financial footing. Only then can we begin to consider such transit cards or similar promotions. “
Lesley Kane, Commercial Director of ScotRail, said: “The coronavirus has fundamentally changed our railroad. We are working hard on plans to develop new types of tickets, better technology and different services to meet customer demand and attract as many people as possible to the railroad in the coming months.
“It is crucial that we inspire people to choose the train as a low carbon alternative in the months and years to come. “