A pioneering project between the University of St Andrews and bus giant Stagecoach to offer 75% off bus travel during the cost-of-living crisis has saved students and staff almost £700,000 in fares and cut the carbon footprint for those travelling for work or study by a phenomenal 614 tonnes in just 12 months.
As a result of its success, the scheme will now be continued. The University has also driven forward a deal with local bus operator Moffat & Williamson to offer the same level of discount. It’s hoped widening access to the scheme will mean even more staff and students will get on board – saving on transport costs and helping reduce the number of cars travelling into St Andrews.
The project’s success has also received national recognition being selected as a finalist in the UK Bus Awards ‘Partnership for Excellence’ category. The awards take place in London next week.
University of St Andrews Chief Operating Officer Derek Watson said uptake of the scheme had exceeded all expectations.
Mr Watson said: “The bus subsidy was just one in a series of initiatives launched by the University to support our students and staff through the cost-of-living crisis. Since then, we’ve seen upwards of 2000 people, mostly staff, using the bus discount every month, and the feedback we’ve had is that it’s really helped cut costs in these challenging times. As well as financial benefits, we’ve also seen a welcome reduction in the carbon footprint of those travelling to work, usually by car, by a massive 614 tonnes; that exceeds all our expectations.”
Mr Watson went on to say he was also pleased to join forces with Moffat & Williamson to extend the discount to local bus routes as well. Staff and students using these services will be able to access the discount via the Stagecoach app after both firms agreed to work together to provide the service.
Mr Watson added: “The University has made, and continues to deliver significant investment in this scheme, and we know it’s really benefitting people, particularly those who live furthest from St Andrews. Initiatives show that while St Andrews may be Scotland’s first and oldest university, we are also at the forefront of driving innovation that has far-reaching benefits as well as taking serious steps towards meeting strategic objectives including our ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2035.”
“In addition to day-time services, our partnership with Stagecoach now also includes the provision of a night bus to Dundee, which is available to members of the public to use as well as our staff and students.”
Stagecoach’s Commercial Director Sarah Elliott said: “The partnership approach between Stagecoach and the University of St Andrews has brought phenomenal results, making a real difference to people’s lives with huge money and carbon savings in North East Fife. The next development of the scheme – making local operators Moffat & Williamson tickets available to purchase utilising our existing technology and app platform – is a shining example of how different sectors can work together to create modal shift.
“We’re delighted that this project has been recognised at the UK Bus Awards as a successful partnership and we’ll shortly be launching an on-bus marketing campaign raising awareness of the project locally too.”
George Devine, Managing Director of Moffat & Williamson, said: “We are delighted to be involved in the scheme and extend the discount to staff and students living in more rural areas. We hope this will encourage them to use local bus services and leave their cars at home.”
From November 2022 to October 2023 the discount saved students and staff a total of £691, 419.19.
614 tonnes Co2 of carbon was saved by students and staff taking the bus compared to a car.
Demand for the service has increased during the lifetime of the pilot project. In October 2023, 2500 tickets were sold.
Users of Moffat & Williamson services will be required to download the Stagecoach app and scan a QR code only accessible to students and staff at the University of St Andrews.
More details on how to access the discount are available on the University Bus Travel Discount web page.
A bus-side advertising campaign showcasing the success of the bus discount scheme will be launched later this month in a bid to highlight the environmental benefits of getting on board with the bus discount and leaving the car at home.