SCOTLAND'S largest independent bus firm has slammed "car-centric" council policies for decreasing passenger numbers.

McGill's, based in Greenock, operates across 110 routes serving North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and Glasgow City council areas.

New results show pre-tax profits have trebled to around £1.4 million, despite a slight dip in turnover to £37.9m.

The results come against a backdrop of falling passenger numbers on Scotland's buses and McGill's said traffic on its services has been in decline since 2015.

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Problems for high street retailing are also cited, but managing director Ralph Roberts says local and national policy which "favours the car and the train" is harming bus services.

He said: "Buses deliver 74% of public transport journeys yet this mode receives peppercorn levels of infrastructure investment.

"We are talking to government at a national level to release more funding for the bus user but local government sees this as high risk as it will bring voter backlash from car users.

"Local politicians need to remember that buses users are also voters."

Roberts went on: "The bulk of our business revenues are earned in the local authority area which has the highest car ownership in Scotland – Renfrewshire – so it is unsurprising that this local authority chooses this polluting mode over green public transport when looking at where they spend their budget.

"Road traffic is up 29% since 1990 and this is the inevitable conclusion of these car-centric policies.”

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McGills, which has more than 800 staff, said efficiency savings had driven its profits up.

It is owned by Arranglen Ltd, the investment vehicle of the Easdale family.

Board director Sandy Easdale insisted changing direction on transport investment would benefit more than his firm.

He said: “Given the climate emergency now declared, local authorities need to prioritise the bus over the car. Buses are the answer to congestion and poor air quality whereas the car is the cause of them.

"We need more bus shelters, more parking management and better road works management which will contribute to healthier and wealthier lives for the public.”

Renfrewshire Council said its “record-level" £40million roads investment will benefit buses and a £1.9m traffic signal upgrade will giving buses priority.

A spokesman added: “We recognise the critical importance of better public transport and our economic strategy sets out detailed measures over the next decade to support this, including steps to influence travel behaviours.”