SPT votes for franchising

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Bus services in Glasgow could be franchised under new plans from SPT. JONATHAN WELCH

It has been revealed that Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has joined a number of English regional authorities in voting to pursue a franchising system for bus operation in its area, which covers Glasgow and the surrounding parts of west Scotland.

The recommendations for reform were approved at an SPT meeting, and the Partnership says it will now consult widely on the recommendations over the next few months.

However, the plans prompted a negative reaction from operators in the region, including McGill’s which warned of a ‘funding black hole for taxpayers’ if the plans go ahead.

According to SPT, bus use in the region has plummeted by around a third in the last 10 years, a drop of some 70 million journeys, whilst higher fares are being asked for what it says is a shrinking network.

SPT chairman Councillor Stephen Dornan called the plan bold and ambitious. He said: “It gives us opportunities to build for growth, and deliver a network that is attractive, accessible, and affordable to both passengers in our communities who rely on the bus to get around and those who we need to get ‘on board’ by offering an attractive alternative to the private car.

“However, any franchising option will take time and investment to establish so we need to look at doing something now to halt the declining bus market. BSIPs, which also require suitable investment, offer the best opportunity for a significant, interim improvement while we work to establish the world-class local bus franchise model the people of the west of Scotland deserve.”