Call for Glasgow buses to be taken into public ownership

A First Bus. Picture: Contributed.
A First Bus. Picture: Contributed.
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Campaigners have stepped up calls for buses to be taken into public hands in Scotland's biggest city.

A national consultation on the future of bus services across Scotland closes on Tuesday.

Edinburgh's Lothian Buses could show "way forward" for re-regulation of services in Scotland

Edinburgh's Lothian Buses could show "way forward" for re-regulation of services in Scotland

But there are growing calls for Glasgow's bus services to be taken into public hands amid claims that the city is being "held to ransom" by private firms who rely on public subsidies but have axed services.

This compares with the high "quality, affordable, environmentally friendly bus services" in Edinburgh where buses have always been owned by the local council.

The Scottish Government consultation proposes to give Local Transport Authorities the power to take buses into public ownership and operate highly regulated franchies. The move has the backing of transport campaigners and trade unions, particularly for the Glasgow area.

Ellie Harrison, Glasgow resident and volunteer campaigner for Get Glasgow Moving said: “Glasgow is being held to ransom by private bus companies. 45% of their income comes from public subsidies, yet they continue to cut vital services and hike up fares. While profits go to shareholders, the average age of a bus in Glasgow is over 10 years, belching out poisonous diesel fumes onto the most polluted streets in Scotland.

“We absolutely want a newly enhanced ‘Transport for Glasgow’ to be granted the powers necessary to run its own bus company, a new ‘Strathclyde Buses’. Glasgow must be given the support necessary to set up a bus company like Edinburgh’s successful and popular Lothian Buses."

Capital residents enjoy blanket fares of £1.60 to travel anywhere in the city, with 15-minure services on many routes.

A similar model in the west could see Glasgow City Council and its surrounding Councils, which presently make up Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, assume ownership of services.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland head of policy and public affairs, said: “The success of Lothian Buses shows a way forward for re-regulation of our buses, with greater public ownership and control, helping to deliver the high quality, affordable, environmentally friendly bus services that people need.”