MCGILL’S bosses have rubbished claims that the Greenock-based bus company is over-charging students.

The company’s managing director, Ralph Roberts, says accusations by West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer that the firm has introduced a ‘massive fare hike’ for those travelling to and from college or university are wide of the mark.

The Green Party politician claims McGill’s have increased fares by 40 per cent since 2016 by cutting their student day ticket — costing people £20 more per month — and raised a motion in the Scottish Parliament about it.

Mr Roberts told the Tele: “The context of the student fares in Inverclyde is that they never existed on public transport in Inverclyde, ever, until I introduced them four years ago.

“We discounted way above the normal market rate and have had to realign that discount to the normal 15 per cent this year.

“These inconvenient facts don’t suit his argument.”

McGill’s has invested millions of pounds on new buses and state-of-the-art electronic ticketing machines across the fleet and Mr Roberts says the company is also exploring ideas to drive prices down for those who are studying.

He said: “On the day ticket, we are trying to find a way to provide a discount to 16, 17, 18 and 19-year-old students as these were the intended recipients.

“There was widespread abuse of the student ticket which caused the withdrawal.

“Again, the ticket didn’t exist until I put it in two years ago.

“There is no student discount on the train and certainly no day ticket.

“I would have thought that if Ross Greer thought a discounted day ticket for students was so crucial he would be speaking to ScotRail to introduce one.”

Mr Roberts also challenged the MSP over his suggestion that it would take 70 years to make the buses in Scotland more environmentally-friendly.

He said: “Fifty-three per cent of the Greenock fleet is green-rated at low emission zone standard.

“There is nowhere in Scotland that’s better, including Edinburgh.”

Mr Roberts insists McGill’s is leading the way for bus travel in Scotland and across the UK.

He said: “Bus is actually a good news story in Inverclyde.

“There is no doubt that we could be better but I am very confident that you won’t find a better situation anywhere in another town in Scotland.

“It’s easy to focus on the negative, but Ross is trying to bend the facts to suit his argument. 

“Industry professionals travel to Inverclyde to look at our services to see how we do it, it happens a lot.”