A Glasgow metro system could make a “huge” difference to people’s lives, MSPs have heard.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson made the remarks as he set out the Scottish Government’s blueprint for the future of transport in Scotland.
A total of 45 recommendations have been made as part of the second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2).
Amongst those is the development of a metro transport system in Glasgow up to around 15km from the city centre.
It would target areas where connections are currently poor, including places where there is deprivation.
The document indicates that the metro system would include one, or a combination of, bus rapid transit, light rail and metro rail.
Those options would complement the service provided by traditional railway, the report said, and may include the conversion from existing railways to light rail or metro rail.
Setting out the details of the review, Matheson explained that the project would help to reduce inequalities, as well as making a “substantial contribution” to tackling climate change.
He told MSPs: “The Clyde Metro project… represents a multi-million pound investment which, when completed, could better connect over 1.5 million people from Clydebank to Cambuslang, and from Easterhouse to East Kilbride.
“(And) improve employment, education, health services, in the Glasgow City region.
“For many people in our city regions, having better access to affordable and reliable public transport has the potential to significantly reduce inequalities and enhance opportunities for many who live and work in some of our most deprived areas of Scotland.
“Clearly, this project will make a substantial contribution to tackling climate change, reducing car-based trips and associated emissions.
“The difference it could make to peoples’ and communities’ lives in the Clyde area is huge.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson asked why there is no timescale on smart ticketing.
“Now, I like the sound of city metro systems, but there’s zero in this (document) to say how and when they’ll be achieved, or how much it will take,” he said.
“Why is there still no timescale for smart ticketing in this? Why is there only mention of talks, not action on cross-border high-speed rail, and what are the plans to improve things in the North?”
Scottish Labour’s transport spokesperson Colin Smyth questioned why people should believe the minister based on the Government’s record on rail investment.
“Given the Government’s track record on transport, few communities will believe that the very vague commitments that have been made in the review will be delivered,” he said.
“Having cancelled not one, but two Glasgow Airport rail links in the past 14 years, why should communities believe the Cabinet Secretary when he says that, ‘sometime in the next 20 years we might build a Glasgow metro, in the meantime the public can continue to use the train services we’re cutting at the ticket offices we’re axing’.”