TRANSPORT Secretary Michael Matheson yesterday defended the SNP Government’s record on public transport, as research found passenger satisfaction is at a 12-year low.

The Scottish Household Survey found that just 65% of Scots were pleased with services. Satisfaction with public transport in 2018 dropped by 4% to the lowest level since the survey began in 2007.

The annual survey, which polled more than 10,000 households, revealed less than two-thirds of respondents were fairly or very satisfied with the public transport system – a fall from 75% in 2014.

There was also a huge gulf between satisfaction levels in rural and urban areas, with just 46% of people in remote areas content with buses and trains compared to 77% in Scotland’s bigger towns and cities.

Analysis of the trips people made in 2018 found more than half of journeys in Scotland (53%) were by car or van. After driving, walking was the most popular method of getting around, with 20% of journeys made on foot last year – a drop of 6% in the last six years.

With almost two-thirds of Scottish adults now viewing climate change as “an immediate and urgent problem”, the number of Scots who have bought, or would consider buying, an electric car has risen from 36% in 2016 to 44%. Matheson said the Scottish Government “is fully committed to delivering a sustainable, accessible and fairer transport system”. He added: “We are investing more than £1 billion in public and sustainable transport each year, the number of rail journeys continues to increase and last week’s Programme for Government included a commitment of more than £500 million for bus priority measures which will reduce the impacts of congestion on bus services and encourage more people to make sustainable multi-modal journeys.

“Almost two-thirds of passengers are very or fairly satisfied with public transport services but we recognise that there is more work to be done by our delivery partners to help address a decline in this area over the last few years.”

Scottish Greens transport spokesman John Finnie said: “The Scottish Government’s programme for the year did not go far enough. The electrification of northern train routes is a basic infrastructure upgrade and more money for bus lanes just won’t cut it when satisfaction in public transport is in decline.

“Scotland needs a publicly owned integrated transport network like we propose in our Scottish Green New Deal so that people have better options than driving to work alone in a polluting vehicle. That means free bus travel, nationalised railways and proper support for walking and cycling.”