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Centre for Cities

New Centre for Cities Report on Improving Public Transport

Launched today – Miles better: Improving public transport in the Glasgow City Region – the new Centre for Cities report setting out a routemap to a fully-integrated and publicly-controlled urban transport network for our region.

Read the Report

Centre for Cities Press Release
Embargoed Until: Wednesday 25 October 2023

Centre for Cities estimates 300,000 people currently under-served by Glasgow’s urban transport network

Centre for Cities, an independent research organisation dedicated to improving the economies of the UK’s largest cities and towns, says Glasgow should pave the way for other Scottish cities by being the first to benefit from bus franchising under Transport Act 2019 powers.

In Miles better: Improving public transport in the Glasgow City Region – a report published in partnership with Get Glasgow Moving and funded through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) Open Fund – Centre for Cities says Glasgow’s economic potential is held back in part because an estimated 300,000 workers in and around Glasgow are under-served by public transport links to the city centre.

Implementing bus franchising – under secondary legislation set to come into force in December – and increasing the frequency and footprint of bus services would connect hundreds of thousands more city-region residents to the city centre within 30 minutes.

Bus franchising also opens up long-term opportunities to integrate urban transport services run by ScotRail and Glasgow Subway into a single transport system with its own ticketing system and cross-subsidies for services in poorly-connected areas.

Doing this would ultimately create a system that is much easier to use, with bus, Subway and train better coordinated and clearer and consistent fares and network-wide tickets easier to introduce. Better integration of the existing network will also complement plans for a future Clyde Metro.

Centre for Cities set out how a 20-year transition to an integrated and publicly-controlled urban transport network may happen in three phases:

  1. Franchising of the bus network and capital investment in transport infrastructure, with funding from the Scottish Government, over the next five years.
  2. Developing sustainable funding streams using revenue-raising powers such as congestion charging, workplace parking levies or new council tax precepts to reduce the public transport system’s reliance on national government subsidy, between five to ten years from now.
  3. Bringing all the region’s rail systems – including the proposed Clyde Metro – under SPT’s control between 10-20 years from now, allowing for full integration across the network and enabling SPT to take advantage of additional revenues from commercial properties in train stations and enable further cross-subsidy across the entire urban transport network.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive of Centre for Cities, said:

“Cities in the UK underperform economically. In Glasgow, this economic underperformance is equivalent to 4.6 per cent of Scotland’s GDP – the size of the nation’s entire Oil & Gas sector. The relatively small size of its public transport network compared to similar cities in Europe is one of the key factors behind this lag. For people living in and around Glasgow, this means longer commute times and many residents struggling to access the city centre and all of the jobs and opportunities on offer there.

“The Transport Act provides an important opportunity to improve public transport in and around Glasgow. Franchising buses under this route would better integrate different parts of Glasgow’s public transport system.

“To get this to happen will require large upfront investment from local and national government. But this is a price worth paying – Glasgow’s ongoing underperformance means the Scottish economy is billions of pounds smaller each year than it should otherwise be, and it limits the prosperity available to the millions of people who live in and around Scotland’s largest city.”

Ellie Harrison, Chair of Get Glasgow Moving, said:

“Bus deregulation, introduced across Britain (except London) in 1986, has been a disaster for our region’s public transport – leaving us with a system that’s fragmented, expensive and unreliable. It has locked many people out of jobs and opportunities, unable to visit friends or family, or forced to buy cars.

Miles better gives us a clear routemap for turning this around. It recommends that our region’s transport authority – SPT – follows Greater Manchester’s example and brings our bus network back into public control using new franchising powers. This would enable SPT to deliver a fully-integrated service that’s reliable, affordable and accessible to all. The positive impacts this would have are vast: cutting congestion and emissions, improving air quality, and reducing social isolation, but most importantly, ensuring that our region’s poorest communities are properly-connected to all the opportunity that Scotland’s biggest city has to offer.”

ENDS

Contact

For copies of the report under embargo, or to speak to authors of the report, please contact Bruno Dent at Centre for Cities: B.Dent@centreforcities.org / +44 (0)7428 313853.

Notes to editors

  1. Miles better: Improving public transport in the Glasgow city region will be published by Centre for Cities at this URL on Wednesday 25 October 2023 at 00.01am BST
  2. Centre for Cities is the leading think tank dedicated to improving the economies of the UK’s largest cities and towns.
  3. Get Glasgow Moving is a grassroots public transport campaign founded in 2016 by local people.
  4. Research for Miles better: Improving public transport in the Glasgow city region was funded through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) Open Fund managed by Paths for All.