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How to make a complaint about a bus service in Scotland

This advice applies to Scotland

This page explains how you can make a complaint about a public bus service in Scotland. 

Complaints about a public bus service

If you're dissatisfied with a public bus service you can make a complaint. You may want to complain about things like:

  • frequency of services - for example, there are not enough services in a day or no evening or weekend buses
  • punctuality and reliability - for example, services often running late, being delayed or cancelled
  • routes - for example, not being able to access important services such as GP surgeries and hospitals by bus or a lack of services in rural areas
  • dangerous driving by a bus driver
  • unacceptable staff behaviour - for example, rudeness or not allowing enough time to get on and off the bus
  • fares - for example, that they are too high or there is a lack of clear information about fares and tickets
  • the condition of a bus - for example, it is unclean, uncomfortable or not adequately heated or ventilated
  • changes to a service - for example, a service has been withdrawn
  • discrimination - if you feel you've been discriminated against while using, or trying to use, a bus service, see our page Discrimination in goods and services overview.

Complain to the bus operator

If you have a complaint about a public bus service, the first thing you should do is make a complaint to the bus company that operates the service.

The name and address of the bus company must be displayed on the outside of the bus and will usually be displayed inside as well. You can also find the contact details of bus companies in Scotland on the Bus Users website.

Find out what the company's complaints process is by looking on its website. Many bus companies have passenger charters or codes of practice that set out the standards of service you should be able to expect and your rights if things go wrong. For example, they should explain how the company will deal with your complaint and how quickly you should expect to receive a response.

Bus Users UK produce a Good Practice Guide for bus companies about best practice in delivering services.

Information to include in your complaint

You should give the bus company as much information as you can. For example, if your complaint is about a specific journey, try to include the following:

  • the date and time of your journey - if you have a ticket it may provide this information
  • what service you were using - for example, the number, route and direction of travel
  • the registration number of the bus or the driver number if you have it - if you have a ticket for the journey, it may provide some of the detail you need and you can include it with your complaint
  • details of what went wrong - you might want to refer to the company's passenger charter or Bus Users UK's Good Practice Guide if you feel any of the standards in it have been broken
  • a ticket for your journey if you have it - it's best to send a copy and keep the original.

Always keep a copy of your complaint.

If you need help to write your complaint, Get Advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

How your complaint should be dealt with

Complaints procedures vary between bus companies but they should all deal promptly and efficiently with your complaint and not try to put you off complaining. If the bus company has a passenger charter or good practice guide, this should set out how your complaint will be dealt with. 

Depending on the kind of complaint you've made, you might get:

  • an apology
  • an explanation
  • compensation.

If your complaint is about a member of staff, the bus company may not be able to tell you exactly what has happened. Rules about confidentiality mean the company will not tell you what action they have taken against an individual member of staff. However, the company should be able to tell you that some action has been taken and what they will do to make their services better.

If you're unhappy with the response that you receive from the bus company, or you don't receive a response within 14 working days, you can make a complaint to Bus Users Scotland.

Complain to Bus Users Scotland

If you're unhappy with the outcome of your complaint to the bus company, you can get in touch with Bus Users Scotland, who can negotiate on your behalf with the bus company. 

Bus Users Scotland is part of Bus Users UK. It works with the Scottish Government, local transport authorities and bus companies to maintain and improve standards for bus passengers. It monitors existing public bus services, how complaints are handled and generally tries to improve services. It is independent and impartial in its handling of complaints and the service is free to passengers.

Before Bus Users Scotland can get involved, you must have first made your complaint to the bus operator and given them 14 working days to respond. Bus Users Scotland can also only deal with complaints about issues that have happened in the past 12 months. It can't deal with complaints about commercial decisions such as fare prices or promotions as these are matters for the bus company and should be taken up with them.

Find out more about making a complaint on the Bus Users website. If your complaint is about a bus company in Scotland, it will be dealt with by the Bus Users Scotland office:

Bus Users Scotland
Hopetoun Gate
8b McDonald Road
Edinburgh
EH7 4LZ

Tel: 0300 111 0001
Email: enquiries@bususers.org

Bus Appeals Body Scotland (BABS)

If you're dissatisfied with the outcome of your complaint after Bus Users Scotland has negotiated on your behalf with the bus operator, you can ask Bus Users Scotland to refer your complaint to the Bus Appeals Body for Scotland (BABS). It will look at all the evidence again and then issue a decision. It does not have statutory powers but a bus company is likely to abide by its decision.

If a bus company fails to abide by the BABS decision, a case file will be sent to the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, who can fine or disqualify an operator.

What to do if a bus service has been reduced or withdrawn

It's good practice for a bus company to consult passengers on any proposed service or route change. See the Good Practice Guide on the Bus Users website for more information about best practice in delivering services.

If you want to make a complaint because a bus service has been reduced or withdrawn, you should take this up with the bus operator. If you're not satisfied with their response, you could also contact your local council. If enough people in a community show that there is a need for a service, the local council may be able to ask the bus company to provide a service.

Complaints about an accident

If a bus service is involved in an accident and you are injured, you should seek legal advice about the next step to take. You might be able to take a personal injuries case for compensation. Some bus companies may automatically deal with the outcome of an accident and offer compensation, also known as a settlement. You may want to get legal advice before you agree to a settlement.

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