Glasgow council considering taking over bus services

Glasgow City Council bosses are considering taking over the running of buses to make the service ‘world class’, as part of its huge transport strategy proposals.

Glasgow’s average bus speeds are poor when measured against comparable cities and ‘ridership’ levels are much lower.

What is the council planning?

To make it better, Glasgow City Council is looking at different options to change how the services run including a municipal bus company, a franchising system and a statutory bus service improvement partnership.

Glasgow's Hope Street is often congested with cars, taxis and buses.

The ideas are included in the council’s transport strategy policy framework due to be signed off next month.

More services, park and rides, better waiting and changing shelters, fare reductions and zero emission vehicles are among changes needed for bus improvements.

A transformation into a ‘world class bus network’would cost £300 million capital investment, another £22.7 million every year and the continuance of £21 million concessionary travel scheme.

Explaining how the council could get involved in running buses, a council paper said: “Where competition for bus service contracts is weak, local authorities should consider the formation of a municipally owned bus operator. In the longer term, a municipally owned bus operator could in theory deliver all buses in a local authority area or the region, offering integrating decision making with all profits invested back into services.

“This would most likely require local authorities to acquire the businesses of today’s commercial operator.”

It could cost £200 million to buy bus operators to run municipal services and £4 to £15 million to set up a bus franchising scheme.

Other ideas

Other major changes, which are part of the council’s mammoth vision for how residents will travel through the city in the future include workplace parking charges.

That would see employers paying a parking licence to allow staff to park – with £2.5 million to £6 million in the city centre generated annually – going towards sustainable transport.

The Glasgow transport strategy final framework – covering more than 100 policies – has been referred to the council’s city administration committee for final approval.

The vision wants car kilometres travelled in the city to be slashed by 30 per cent come 2030. It is hoped with infrastructure changes more people will choose, walking cycling or public transport to get about.

Twenty seven per cent of vehicle journeys in Glasgow are are one kilometre or less.

Councillors respond

The strategy policy framework was presented to the environment, sustainability and carbon reduction city policy committee last week.

At the meeting Councillor Kyle Thornton, Conservative, lodged an amendment calling for changes to the transport strategy. His amendment was not seconded by another politician.

Labour councillor Eva Murray called for the paper on the transport strategy to be continued as further information was needed. Her amendment seconded by party colleague Councillor Jill Brown was also rejected.

Councillors from the SNP and Scottish Greens supported the motion, which was approved, referring the paper to the city administration next month for final sign off.

Consultation has taken place on the transport policy framework.

Other schemes in the strategy

Some of the policies contained in the Glasgow transport strategy policy framework:

Work with partners to develop a Clyde Metro for the city and region – targeting areas with poor public transport connections and integrate with all sustainable transport options.

Continue to encourage SPT to prioritise exploration of extending opening hours of Subway on Sunday evenings to ensure this is an option for workers and visitors.

The Council will work with SPT, Transport Scotland and transport operators to investigate and deliver the best solution to achieve affordable public transport fare capping

The Council will work with partners to explore the feasibility of a targeted free public transport scheme, and subject to this, monitor and evaluate any pilot to inform thinking on the benefits and costs of free public transport. This should build on Transport Scotland’s free bus travel scheme for under 22s.

Introduce a city-wide 20mph mandatory speed limit on the majority of our roads by 2030 at the latest.

Consider the role of water-borne freight for the city, ensuring any water based movement is low carbon.

Explore emission-based resident parking charges as a policy intervention to influence the transition to cleaner and low emission vehicles in private ownership (particularly cars and vans).

Improving awareness of how to plan cycle journeys and where to find cycle route mapping (online and in hard copy form) as well as walking route planners, and over time, ways to plan barrier-free fully accessible wheeling routes.