Locals gathered in George Square, Glasgow this morning to call for the extension of free public transport, which has been made available to COP26 delegates, to all residents of Glasgow.

Trade union representatives and environmental campaigners spoke at the demonstration about how Scotland’s public transport system is failing to provide an alternative to car use, and the need for councils to use their new powers to start publicly owned bus companies in order to improve passenger numbers and reduce climate emissions.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Government revealed bus fares have risen by 58% above inflation since privatisation.

Gavin Thomson, transport campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said:

“Transport is Scotland’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, which cause climate change. It’s vital that the Scottish Government and local councils take action on transport – without that there can be no meaningful action on the climate. Councils have new powers to start publicly owned bus companies, which would help us restore lost routes and reduce car use.

“People in Glasgow are watching delegates use their free public transport pass and wondering why we can’t make that available to everyone. Free public transport should remain after the end of COP26, and be open to everyone

“The people who came together in George Square this morning are tired of our misshapen, expensive public transport system. Bringing buses into public ownership and making them free at the point of use – like we do with health, education and other vital services – would be a huge step forward. If we run our buses in the public interest, we can create a comprehensive network that takes cars off the road, reduces emissions and improves air quality.”

‘Public Transport, Private Profit’ full report. https://chrgj.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Report-Public-Transport-Private-Profit.pdf

P.42 in the report: “The local bus fares index for Scotland (BUS0405, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/bus04-costs-fares-and-revenue) goes back to 1995 and shows an increase of 159.4% between 1995 and 2021. Once adjusted for inflation, this is an increase of 58.1%.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.