Petition aims to make public transport an election issue

While long-running arguments over taking railways back into public ownership continue the group is demanding a 'people first' policy across the whole public transport network.
While long-running arguments over taking railways back into public ownership continue the group is demanding a 'people first' policy across the whole public transport network.

What’s argued to be Greater Glasgow’s ramshackle and chaotic public transport system is set to become a council election battleground.

Grass roots campaign Get Glasgow Moving has gathered more than 2,300 signatures in just two days, with dozens of angry regular users venting their frustration on a network they say is out of date, unconnected and third rate.

Campaign organiser Ellie MacLeod says that while just under half of Glasgow area households have cars - mweaning most people utterly rely on buses, trains and subway - the public transport system is “a total mess”.

She said: “Investing in public transport is essential for expanding our city’s economy, addressing inequality and social isolation, reducing toxic levels of air pollution and tackling climate change.

No individual political party is singled out for blame, but she says bickering between the various parties is letting Glasgow down.

“We are decades behind other cities in providing affordable and sustainable transport,” she said.

“We are calling for a publicly-owned bus company for Glasgow, affordable, integrated ticketing with a city-wide smartcard, bike-hire stations across the city, a publicly-owned Transport Authority for Glasgow, and a coordinated, long-term vision and investment in the city’s transport needs.”

The campaign has organised a pre-election hustings meeting in the city’s Renfield St Stephen Church, 260 Bath Street, at 7pm on April 26, “to grill some of our wannabe councillors on how they plan address our public transport mess.”

Representatives from Scottish Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scottish Green Party and Castlemilk Against Austerity are already said to have confirmed they will be represented.

Issues likely to be addressed include poor or no service on some routes, the apparent inability of the Subway to expand - it’s said to be the only system in Europe that has never expanded - and the short-hours service it offers on Sundays.

The lack of an easy-to-understand and affordable smartcard giving connected access to city services could also be on the agenda.

The group argues that public transport in Scotland’s biggest city is an embarrassment which causes acute difficulties for huge numbers of citizens across all walks of life, and that lack of political focus means the same arguments are - like the Subway - going round in circles.

The group contrasts the situation in Glasgow with publicly-owned Transport for London, which “puts people first and has power over the capital’s entire transport network.”

it has had smartcard tickets in use since 2003, making it simple to change between buses, tubes, trains, trams and bikes.

Get Glasgow Moving says: “Because they are set up to ‘reinvest all income to run and improve services’, they also have ambitious plans for expansion over the coming decades, with two new Crossrail lines.”