North Ayrshire could form part of a new pilot scheme to reduce bus fares, according to the area's MSP.

Kenneth Gibson says the region is the "ideal place" to try out a pilot scheme promised by the SNP at Holyrood which would see flat fares introduced to try and encourage people out of their cars and on to buses.

Mr Gibson says he has raised the proposal with Scottish ministers. 

It comes after the News revealed that the cost of a bus journey from Largs to Fairlie is higher than the price of a ticket from Largs to Greenock, despite the Greenock journey being over a far greater distance.

As previously reported, a return between Fairlie and Largs now costs £5.80 for a journey that lasts nine minutes each way, following a recent fare increase by Stagecoach.

In comparison, a McGill's 'day saver' ticket, which covers the whole of the company's Inverclyde network as well as Largs, costs £5.70. 

Cheaper still for Largs-Fairlie and Largs-West Kilbride journeys is travelling by train, with a Largs-Fairlie return on ScotRail coming in at £2.70 and a Largs-West Kilbride return at £4.50.

An unlimited use Stagecoach ticket from Largs to anywhere else in Ayrshire is £7.50.

However, an unlimited use ticket for Stagecoach's 'mid-Ayrshire' zone, which stretches from West Kilbride southwards and covers the rest of mainland Ayrshire, costs £5.

Mr Gibson said: “The people who rely most on bus services are those with the least disposable income to absorb these kind of price hikes.

“Bus companies are private businesses, although they will receive £429.7 million this year to fund concessionary fares and support bus services.

“Stagecoach will no doubt decide on a fare based on likely revenue on a given route.

“As part of its Fair Fares Review, the SNP Government has committed to an area-based pilot for flat bus fares. 

“North Ayrshire would be the ideal place for this pilot to take place and an issue I have taken to Scottish ministers.”

The Fair Fares Review states: "Fare increases may be necessary, in the absence of government intervention, of such a magnitude that public transport patronage will be significantly impacted further affecting the commercial viability of services leading to network retrenchment.

"This would have a disproportionate impact on low income households, who are generally more reliant on public transport, and hence could exacerbate existing societal inequalities.

"Being unable to access public transport hinders the ability of people to participate in society and can negatively impact their physical and mental health, limit economic opportunities and cause economic hardship.

"Lack of affordable public transport may also encourage higher car ownership levels as it forces people into choosing cars over public transport."