Everywhere in Scotland except Edinburgh has privately owned buses. This means the companies running the buses can make decisions based on what will make them the most money, rather than what the communities they’re serving need. Almost four in 10 local bus routes in Scotland have been axed since 2007, which gives a sobering picture of the situation right now.

Along with trade unions, health and poverty charities, student groups and more, we’re campaigning for buses in the Strathclyde region to be taken back into public control so that they are run for passengers, not for profit.

​​The Strathclyde region covers 12 councils and has a population of 2.2 million. It has the largest number of bus users in Scotland, yet passenger numbers continue to fall as commercial operators cut routes and increase fares. A single on First Glasgow is now £2.85, compared to £2.00 on Edinburgh’s publicly-owned Lothian Buses.

Many people think of having a poor, expensive bus service as an issue that’s faced particularly in rural areas, but as anyone who lives or spends time in Glasgow knows, it’s a problem in Scotland’s biggest city too. In Glasgow, around half of households don’t have access to a car – so a good bus service is vital.

Public transport needs to be treated like the essential service it is. Without a good bus service, people are forced into using a car or if that’s not an option left isolated and unable to access services, employment or friends and family.

Where car use is an option for people, we need to make public transport the first choice. Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, and it’s not being tackled at anywhere near the pace that’s needed. The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car travel by 20% by 2030 which will make a significant difference, but without serious improvements to public transport it isn’t feasible.

The buses in Greater Manchester have recently been taken back into public control following a similar campaign, so we know it’s possible to win this. The region’s new ‘Bee Network’ launched in September and will deliver an integrated transport system with a one ticket fits all approach and fares have already got lower.

SPT, the bus regulator, is currently developing the new Strathclyde Regional Bus Strategy which will set the direction of bus policy for the next 15 years, which is why it’s a crucial time to push for this to happen in the Strathclyde region. They intend come to a decision on how to move forward in March 2024, so we have some time to show them that there is huge public support for this move.

We hope this will be the first of many campaigns like this in Scotland.