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Local Transport Strategy Consultation

Local Transport Strategy consultation

Dear Connecting Communities team,

Please accept this as Get Glasgow Moving’s submission to the Local Transport Strategy consultation.

Get Glasgow Moving is a volunteer-run campaign founded in 2016 to demand a world-class, fully-integrated & accessible, publicly-owned & accountable, public transport network for everyone in our region.

We now have more than 11,000 supporters across Greater Glasgow.

To evidence the weight of support for our demands, we are officially submitting our two petitions to be acknowledged and taken account of by your team as you develop the new Local Transport Strategy.

Please find attached the names and postcodes of all signatories and confirm receipt of these.

In addition to these two petitions, please find attached our Organisational Feedback Form, alongside some more detailed comments below in this Covering Letter.

Whilst we agree with the proposed ‘transport outcomes’ and many of the ‘policy focus areas’ in your consultation document, we are extremely concerned by the language used in the section on ‘better, cheaper, integrated transport systems’, which appears to support the failing status quo in which private bus companies decide which bus routes they want to run and how much they charge for fares.

The very fact that Glasgow City Council already appear to have begun work on a ‘partnership‘ with the private bus companies which aims to “closely align with the needs and requirements of the bus industry”, threatens to undermine the whole consultation process – acting counter to the Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance – by developing an ill-thought through solution before thoroughly investigating all the options now available to us in the Transport Act 2019.

We have written to the Transport Minister to express our concerns (see letter attached) and have also highlighted in pink the ‘policy focus areas’ in your consultation document which concern us the most (see our Organisational Feedback Form attached).

In order for this consultation to be meaningful all options must remain on the table. We need innovative and ambitious ideas in order to deliver your proposed ‘transport outcomes’ and our campaign’s demands.

Governance & Regulation

To deliver a world-class public transport network we need a newly-empowered and properly-funded Regional Transport Authority (SPT or a re-branded ‘Transport for Greater Glasgow’) which can plan and coordinate the network at a regional level. This Transport Authority must be democratically-accountable and have power over the whole transport network (traffic/parking controls and public transport) as well as land-use planning, and be constituted to re-invest all its income in expanding and improving services.

Key to empowering and properly-funding our Regional Transport Authority, will be its use of new powers devolved to councils in the Transport Act 2019:

  • to re-regulate all the existing private bus companies under ‘Franchising’ so we can properly plan the network to re-connect communities left stranded by cuts from private bus companies, and impose an immediate cap on fares.
  • to set up a publicly-owned bus company for Greater Glasgow to start taking over routes. This will provide a better service and ensure public money is not being extracted from the system as private profit.
  • to use revenue-raising powers available (namely the Workplace Parking Levy) at a regional level to increase funding for improving and expanding the public transport network. New taxes on car travel will only be politically-acceptable and just if an affordable (or completely free), reliable and efficient public transport network is already in place.

We must take this regional approach, because so many people commute in and out of Glasgow for work/leisure. It is therefore essential that our Local Transport Strategy works in harmony with SPT’s new Regional Transport Strategy which is also currently under development. In order to plan and deliver the transport network at a regional-level, the Regional Transport Authority (SPT or a re-branded ‘Transport of Greater Glasgow’) must be able to use all the powers outlined above on behalf of Glasgow and our neighbouring authorities. All funding for public transport (for example the BSOGs) must be channelled through the Regional Transport Authority, rather than being handed to private operators directly by central government with no local/regional control over routes or fares, as is currently the case.

It’s only by having a simple regional governance structure, where one public body takes responsibility for all transport in the region, that we will be able to deliver an effective, transparent and accountable system. This ‘total transport authority‘ model works well in London where TfL takes on this responsibility, and in many other European towns and cities where publicly-controlled public transport is the norm.

Public Control not Partnerships

We fundamentally reject Glasgow City Council’s plan to develop a Bus Service Improvement Partnership (BSIP). Re-regulation and greater public ownership of buses will improve services and save public money in the long-term. As Transport for Quality of Life demonstrate in their report Building a World-Class Bus System for Britain:

“No partnership model – no matter how it is framed – can achieve the transformative change that is needed: it cannot enable a local authority to plan and deliver a comprehensive area-wide bus network; cannot enable creation of a single easy-to-understand fares structure; cannot allow timetables and services to be coordinated; cannot guarantee network stability and easy-to-find comprehensive information; and cannot enable costs of concessionary fares payments to be brought under control.” p.12

It is clear BSIPs will continue to fail to reverse patronage decline. We need far more radical and comprehensive change to the way our public transport is run to deliver the dramatic modal shift across the region that we need. Without this, Glasgow’s carbon neutral target of 2030 will be unachievable.

In England, Manchester and Liverpool have both carried out extensive investigations into all the powers available to them under their Bus Services Act 2017. Both cities have concluded that only re-regulating their entire bus networks through region-wide franchising frameworks will deliver the comprehensive, fully-integrated and affordable networks their regions need. South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire also look set to follow suit. Glasgow already lags far behind Manchester and Liverpool on many measures well-documented by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health’s research into ‘the Glasgow effect’. If we continue to develop the BSIP model, then we will fall even further behind.

To conclude, it is essential that our transport governance is resolved and that all options remain on the table at the next stage of the consultation. We must use this once-in-a-decade opportunity to ensure we deliver a world-class, fully-integrated and accessible public transport system that works in the interests of Glasgow’s people and not for the shareholders of the private bus companies.

We look forward to being involved in the next stage of the consultation.

Yours sincerely,

Ellie, Gavin, Susan, Brenda, Calum, Miles, Neil, David, Dylan and Mike
Get Glasgow Moving Committee