THE biggest shake-up of buses in Glasgow since the late 1990s has been unveiled by First in an attempt to increase passenger numbers, with increased frequency and free wifi.
The move by the city’s main operator comes three months after a damning report by the Scottish Green Party described the service as “shambolic”, with two in three passengers finding buses unreliable and fewer than half happy with their frequency.
First will launch its “Simplicity” plan to streamline the network on 12 May, which includes buses on key routes running every five or ten minutes.
It will provide free wifi on nearly 300 buses by the end of the year - which has yet to be introduced by sister firm ScotRail on its extensive Strathclyde suburban network.
Many routes on the bus network, which carries 114 million passengers a year, will be changed or re-numbered.
First Glasgow managing director Ronnie Park said: “We are proposing to introduce a brand new network that will significantly improve and simplify our network.
“Simplicity will give our customers confidence that they can expect a bus every ten minutes or better during the day on the Simplicity network.
“Services every ten minutes or better will encourage more people to use our buses and to use them more often.
“Glasgow has changed considerably since the current network was introduced in the 1990s. A new network is required which better matches the travelling needs of the city, especially as we approach the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”
Mr Park urged passengers to comment on the proposals during consultation a two-week consultation period until 1 March to help shape their final form.
Glasgow Green MSP Patrick Harvie, who spearheaded the party’s Better Buses report, said: “More frequent buses on key routes will be a welcome improvement, but First must not use this reorganisation as cover for cutting yet more peripheral bus routes that people rely on.
“Glasgow suffered this time last year when First cut or reduced dozens of services, and they admit that these new changes will see fewer miles covered. We need a public service that really serves all parts of our city.
”It’s clear from this latest decree that all the power is in the hands of the bus company, and very little is held by bus users.
“Two weeks of consultation is a worryingly short period for passengers to find out about these changes and make their views known.”