Bus campaigners to hand in public ownership petition

Get Glasgow Moving has received support from thousands of residents since it launched the petition in June.

First Group: Susan Aitken said last week operator had confirmed sale is off the table.
First Group: Susan Aitken said last week operator had confirmed sale is off the table.

Campaigners who want Glasgow City Council to take control of the city’s bus services will hand over a 7000-strong petition on Wednesday.

Get Glasgow Moving has received support from thousands of city residents since it launched the petition online in June.

The group wants the council to operate buses “in the interests of passengers, not profit” and will meet with the authority’s leader Susan Aitken to discuss its demands.

It has received support from unions Unite and Unison as well as councillors from the city’s Labour and Green groups.

Councillors agreed the council should look at taking bus services into public ownership at a meeting in June after First Group had announced it was putting its UK operations up for sale.

However, Councillor Aitken told a full council meeting last week the operator had confirmed “the sale is now off the table” following enquiries by officers from the city authority.

She said the focus would now be on “securing Glasgow’s share of the £500m allocation by the Scottish Government for bus priority measures”.

Rebecca Menzies, a campaigner for Get Glasgow Moving, said: “Just because First are no longer selling, it doesn’t mean we can’t have a publicly-owned and controlled bus company.

“The Transport Scotland Act enables councils to set up their own bus company, like Lothian Buses, and allows for re-regulation through bus franchising, like in London.”

Lothian Buses is owned by Edinburgh City Council, Midlothian Council, East Lothian Council and West Lothian Council.

Transport for London, accountable to the city’s mayor, decides on bus routes, timetables and fares, with the services operated under contract by private companies.

Ms Menzies added: “Regulation would allow us to set timetables, ticket prices and finally begin to integrate our public transport network.

“It is unlikely the £500m bus infrastructure fund will be spent improving connectivity in Glasgow city centre or in surrounding communities.

“It is more likely to be directed into priority lanes on motorways for inter-city travel, which is welcome but doesn’t solve Glasgow’s issues.

“With 7000 signatures, it’s clear that the people of Glasgow demand better from our buses.”

The campaign group wants the council, surrounding authorities and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to “utilise these new powers with support from the Scottish Government”.

Ms Menzies said: “Running public transport for profit is not compatible with the climate crisis, or poverty in Glasgow.

“Bus partnerships have failed, they should not be getting another chance. It’s now time for action.”

Story by local democracy reporter Drew Sandelands

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