Glasgow City Council has been awarded the money from the first round of Transport Scotland’s £500m Bus Partnership Fund, which will be shared out over five years.
Funding from this allocation will focus on bus priority enhancement to five corridors: Paisley Road West; Maryhill Road; Dumbarton Road; Pollokshaws Road and Great Western Road.
Councillor Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, said: “The fund is designed to support local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, in tackling the negative impact of congestion on bus services so that bus journeys are quicker and more reliable, encouraging more people to travel by bus.
“While Scotland has experienced a general decline in bus use, with passenger journeys decreasing by 20% between 2009/10 and 2019/20 – the scale of the decline has been more significant in Glasgow City Region than in any other region in the UK.
“One of the reasons for this is due to longer journey times caused by congestion on the road network, particularly in urban areas.”
In total, £3.6m has been awarded to the Glasgow City Region — which includes neighbouring councils — and councillors will be asked to accept the funding today.
To be eligible for the funding, applicants had to be working towards Bus Service Improvement Partnership status — which include bus operating firms. Campaigners for public ownership of bus services believe these partnerships “lock us into” a “broken privatised system”.
A voluntary bus partnership was formed in November 2020, bringing together eight Glasgow City Region councils, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), bus operators and bus passenger representative groups.
Cllr Richardson said: “Throughout the early development of the bid, there has been consensus within the partnership that the focus of work should be on prioritising bus priority on routes that benefit the greatest number of passengers.”
Business cases for how to improve the five key corridors will be developed with the funding. Route-wide reviews will consider developing bus lanes and gates, minimising on-street parking, upgrading traffic lights to provide bus pre-emption and reviewing the number of bus stops.
A council report reveals the partnership is also looking into the development of fare capping, integrated ticketing, greener vehicles and improved network coverage.
The Glasgow City Region cabinet was advised of Transport Scotland’s £3.6m grant offer at a meeting last week. A report stated it is anticipated a further £122m of investment could be unlocked in future funding rounds.
Cllr Andrew Polson, joint leader of East Dunbartonshire Council, said he was “disappointed with the level of funding we got there”.
He said the region needs support to meet its climate change ambitions. “Not least of all, getting people onto buses and out of cars.”
Glasgow’s council leader Susan Aitken said officers were seeking clarification from Transport Scotland on the disbursement of the fund, but she agreed “getting it out quickly should be an imperative”.
An officer said council staff were working on business cases for another £112m of investment. “I believe that’s what will potentially be available this round,” they said, describing the £3.6m as an “initial allocation”.