Green MSP Ross Greer yesterday (3 June) met with a representative of Glasgow Citybus, to discuss the recent announcement that their 15 service will be withdrawn. The 15, which runs between Milngavie and Glasgow city centre, via Bearsden, Anniesland and the West End, will cease operating at the end of June, an announcement which has caused widespread concern from local residents.
Ross met with the company’s Commercial Manager Sharon Morrison to discuss the reasons behind Citybus’ decision and to present a 16-page summary of the emails, letters and phone calls he has received from local residents who rely on the service. Ross also handed over a petition from residents of Oakburn Gardens sheltered housing in Milngavie, which calls for the service to be continued.
Ms Morrison explained the issues which have prevented the route from becoming profitable in its six years of operation. The primary challenges are congestion along many sections of the route, consistently but unpredictably delaying buses, as well as passenger data showing that most of those using the service do so from areas with other bus services, resulting in increased competition and insufficient usage. Citybus have instead decided to focus on investing in other areas of their service, including the local 17 route.
However SPT (Strathclyde Passenger Transport) have started a tender process to ensure that those parts of the 15’s route which are not already served by other buses will continue to have a service. West Coast Motors, operators of Glasgow Citybus, have emphasised that they are not pulling out of Bearsden & Milngavie entirely or permanently and would be interested in taking on local routes in the future, should they be viable.
Speaking after the meeting, Ross Greer MSP, who is a regular user of both the 15 and 17 services, said:
“It’s extremely disappointing that the service will be lost, but I’m grateful to West Coast Motors for being very open and constructive in explaining why they have made this decision, as well as what can be done to support local residents when the 15 ends. While it seems unlikely that the service will be reinstated completely, I’m hopeful that we can ensure nobody is left stranded. I’ve now asked SPT for an urgent meeting to discuss their tender and to emphasise the fact that many local residents are reliant on this bus connection to travel for work, university & college and to simply get between Bearsden & Milngavie.
“For as long as our buses are ran by a barely regulated free-market model though, cuts like this will continue to happen. Public transport should be ran in the interests of the public. Publicly-owned Lothian Buses in Edinburgh is the best service in the country and there’s no reason we can’t have the same here. That’s why the Greens are attempting to amend the Scottish Government’s transport bill this very week, with the aim of making publicly-ran services easier to set up.”