Glasgow City Council has decided to invest £75,000 in designing a pilot of free public transport, to include buses, trains and the Subway. This decision was a result of more than five years of campaigning by Get Glasgow Moving, strengthened over the last two years by Free Our City, a coalition of climate activists, trade unions and passenger groups.
Representatives of ScotE3, Glasgow Trades Council, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Migrants Organising for Rights and Empowerment, and Govan Community Council, all active members of the Free Our City Coalition, met last week with a Council officer and a representative of Stantec, the large transport consultancy company which won the commission to design a free public transport pilot, whose report to the Council is scheduled for June.
Free public transport, now available in many cities across the world, is vital for reducing Glasgow’s carbon emissions and the many inequalities which plague Glasgow. Get Glasgow Moving had already met separately with Stantec.
Free Our City made these main points to Stantec:
- The pilot must be universal, including all households in Glasgow. Households often plan journeys with other households not in their locality. Anything less than a universal pilot will not provide a reliable evidence base.
- It’s vital that Stantec develop the pilot as paving the way for free public transport for all in the longer term – otherwise the pilot will be pointless.
- We suggested that the Council could buy out the private bus companies for the duration of the pilot, agreeing a price based on their current income (trains and the Subway are already publicly owned).
- Stantec should identify funding opportunities from the Scottish Government for rolling out free public transport across Greater Glasgow – not just say to Glasgow City Council “this is how much it’ll cost”.
- There are no examples of effective public transport under private ownership internationally, but plenty of examples under public ownership. Public ownership should be tightly connected to the understanding of how any full scheme could be delivered, as the cross-subsidy benefits of having a whole system under public ownership may reduce the total cost of a free scheme for which a franchise system may over-estimate the total cost.
- We asked to be kept informed as they developed their project and offered to meet again.
Here’s the REEL News film of the Free Our City demonstration at the Glasgow COP