As we all know, money is tight among Councils. In Edinburgh and elsewhere, aspirations to improve bus services compete for funding with other worthwhile services. Bus routes, of course, operate on a commercial basis. But the infrastructure they use, the roads, the bus stops, almost everything that doesn’t move, is the Council’s responsibility; as is providing socially necessary services which can’t break even.
So how can the Council maximise funding for improvements?
One source is ‘Section 75’ funding. Section 75 payments are funds secured from developers to pay for facilities needed because of the development; such as improved transport, school buildings etc. So if a developer builds new houses, or offices, the Council can secure payments to cover the cost of public transport improvements needed to serve the development.
We wondered how the City of Edinburgh Council uses this mechanism. So we lodged a Freedom of Information request with the Council, asking how much Section 75 money it had secured to improve bus services.
The FOI request revealed that, between 2015 and 2022, CEC secured a total of £84,230,232 in Section 75 payments.