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Connectivity Commission

Connectivity Commission

On 29 April 2019, Glasgow City Council’s Connectivity Commission published phase two of their report recommending £10 billion investment in Glasgow’s public transport infrastructure, including building the new Glasgow Metro tram network.

The Connectivity Commission was set up by Glasgow City Council’s new SNP administration following their Transport Summit which we took part in in autumn 2017. Their aim was to ‘generate bold, fresh ideas to transform Scotland’s biggest city’.

Their final report highlights Glasgow’s ‘connectivity contradictions and contrasts’:

[The city] has the UK’s best suburban rail network outside London, where passenger numbers have grown exponentially over the last decade, creating a crisis of growth as even strong levels of national investment struggle to keep pace with relentlessly rising demand.

On the other hand, its bus network, responsible for carrying a far greater number of passengers, has experienced the steepest decline of any UK city over that same decade, creating a crisis to decline, isolating communities from the city’s economic, social and cultural core. p.5

our response

Get Glasgow Moving welcomed the majority of the Connectivity Commission’s proposals, including:

Bus Regulation

They say that if current bus ‘partnership’ continues to perform poorly ‘on bus patronage compared with other UK cities, the Commission’s firm view is the powers in the new Scottish Transport Bill should be deployed to regulate the bus network.’ p.18

Non-residential parking charges

They say that ‘Local authorities in Scotland should be given the powers in the Scottish Transport Bill to introduce non-residential parking charges’ and that ‘Glasgow City Council should propose the transport projects that could be funded from this revenue stream.’ p.17

£10 billion Investment

Their ‘headline’ projects include building a new light rail system (Glasgow Metro) utilising disused railway lines and linking up parts of the city which currently have no fixed transport assets, expanding Central Station to accommodate HS2 and building a city centre railway tunnel to link Central and Queen Street Stations. p.28-36

New Governance Structure

They acknowledge the failure of the current fragmented transport governance structure (which includes Strathclyde’s twelve local councils, the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Transport Scotland, Network Rail and all the private bus and train operators) and recommends establishing a new body called the ‘Glasgow City Region Development Agency’ which would take on the powers of SPT and Clydeplan and be responsible for overseeing transport planning, strategy and operations. p.42

Bus Lanes on Motorways

They also recommend introducing dedicated bus lanes on all Glasgow’s urban motorways. p.40

Our campaign’s position is that Glasgow is long-overdue investment on this scale. The city has been completely overlooked since the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive was abolished on 1 April 1996 (and replaced with the SPTA and now SPT, neither of which have had the powers or funding necessary to be effective). However, our priority is to see investment in developing local links to areas in deprived parts of the city such as Castlemilk, which would be served by the new Glasgow Metro.

We also see it as essential that any new governing body is democratically accountable and explicitly transport-focussed. We will therefore be campaigning for a new ‘Transport for Greater Glasgow’ body (to take on the powers proposed for the new ‘Glasgow City Region Development Agency’) which can oversee the integration of the whole transport network: buses, rail, Subway and Metro on the principle of ‘one network, one timetable, one ticket’ as quoted the ‘Building a World-class Bus System for Britain’ report (p.19).

The Connectivity Commission do not go into enough detail on integration and accessibility, so we will continue to push on both these points. Our position is that ‘Transport for Greater Glasgow’ (or SPT in the meantime) must fully-utilise all the new powers in the Transport Bill for ‘franchising’ and/or public ownership of buses to fully regulate and integrate the network and to reduce fares.

Their Report barely mentions affordability for passengers. We believe the only way to effectively increase bus patronage is by massively improving the service (bus priority measures are important for this) and by hugely reducing the cost of fares. We will be campaigning for a simplified fare structure (flat fares on all buses) and one fully-integrated ticket with a truly affordable daily price cap.

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