Highland Liberal Democrat Holyrood candidate Angela MacLean has called for the the Inverness City Deal to be used to transform public transport across the region.
The Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch candidate says the deal presents a unique opportunity to empower a regional transport body such as HITRANS.
Commenting, Angela said:
"The Invernet commuter rail services, established back in April 2006 have been a rare success story of public transport in the Highlands.
"By contrast, the bus services available both across the region and within its village, town and city are too often disjointed, badly advertised, expensive and unreliable. Bus operators have been repeatedly challenged to raise their game but they either can't or won't - and the current Scottish Government won't make them.
"The transport infrastructure of the Highland Capital is creaking, with frustrated motorists facing congestion on every approach to the city, every morning and evening. Our roads need investment, but what sets us apart from other city regions is the failure of public transport to present an attractive alternative.
"The City Deal could allow HITRANS to design a network of services that is fit for the 21st century, using rail, bus, community transport and ferry services to the best combined effect. A single, simple, well advertised network with a single user-friendly smart ticketing system. A flexible service that would attract commuters out of their cars and make life better for young and old across communities from Kyle of Lochalsh to Cromarty.
"There is a huge opportunity to boost tourism too, so visitors arriving at Dalcross or any of our railway stations can be offered access to the world renowned attractions all over our region. The current visitor experience of transport options is letting us down. The result is more cars on the road in peak season and fewer tourists enjoying the best that we have to offer.
"We should look to cities like London and Edinburgh where public transport works for everyone - and apply lessons to Highland circumstances. A properly resourced coordinating body with a clear strategy, the ability to promote services properly and control fares is key. The City Deal is a rare chance to get this right and to reset the relationship with transport operators in a positive way."