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The Secretary

Dennistoun Community Council


3/2, 23 Finlay Drive
Glasgow G31 2BD
Iain Gray MSP
Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP
Thursday 29
th
August 2013
Dear Mr Gray,
Thank you for providing Dennistoun Community Council with the opportunity to feed into the
proposed Bus Regulation (Scotland) Bill.
Responding to public comments in 2011, we held an open meeting on bus services in our area,
and the findings and comments inform our consultation response. It's worth noting that First Bus
declined our request that a representative attend our public meeting, and it took a forceful
letter from local MSP Paul Martin before they reconsidered and sent representatives to a second
meeting. None of them arrived by bus. While the public meeting focussed on the Dennistoun
area of Glasgow, many services require travel beyond the community council boundaries, so our
comments apply to the entire city. For further information and verification historical posts
remain online in the Dennistoun Forum (http://www.dennistoun.co.uk/forum_view.asp?
id=16643), and problems raised and a written response from First Bus are on our website
(http://dennistouncc.org.uk/2011/11/18/public-meeting-to-discuss-local-bus-services/)
We agree with the principle that services to remote areas have to be protected, and bundling
profitable routes with those making money would appear to be a viable solution. Furthermore, if
a service is run, there has to be agreement that it runs until a reasonable hour. It's no longer the
case that almost everyone finishes their day at 5.30, so why should it be acceptable that
services end at 6.30. Bundling routes with a condition of late service should have the added
financial benefit to the taxpayer of reducing the public subsidy required for many evening
services.
Problems with rail franchises indicate there has to be an efficiently funded alternative able to
replace withdrawn or failed franchise bundles at short notice.
If there are to be penalties, they should have some bite, perhaps with an escalating scale for
specific repeated breaches of service. There's an increasing belief that some airlines cancel
flights for booked passengers on the basis that it's cheaper to pay compensation than operate an
individual unprofitable flight.
The bus fare system should be fair for all residents. In 2011 First Bus in Glasgow reconfigured
their prices so that the cost of a one mile journey is the same as a cost of a five mile journey.
While benefiting those living further from the city centre, the cost of a single journey for
residents living closer to the city centre increased by 25%. As annual fare rises regularly exceed
inflation rates the public perception is these rises are profiteering from a captured market. If
two people are travelling from Dennistoun to the City Centre it's cheaper to take a minicab; a
condemnation of what should be an affordable public service.
Bus companies are very slow to respond to infrastructure changes within the Glasgow, and in
some cases renege on promises. Routes to hospitals are currently a great concern following
health departments transferring services from one hospital to another. It's apparently
uneconomic to run services directly from Dennistoun to the hospitals, so the most needy have to
incur extra charges and spend more time by travelling via the city centre. An associated example
would be the move of BBC and STV to their current riverside offices. First Bus held meetings
with staff before the moves assuring them bus services would be provided to the new premises.
It would seem similar assurances were made to Glasgow City Council as the new bridge built over
the Clyde incorporates a bus lane. The only bus that uses this lane is the tourist bus, and new
bus services to an area employing well over 1000 people failed to materialise. McGill's now run
buses to the BBC and STV, but only from the city centre.
A problem occurring since our consultation is the fragmentation of nominally single routes at the
start and end of their route. The 38 bus now has five variants, splintering at beginning and end
to compensate for withdrawn services. This has resulted in a longer waiting time for those
journeying beyond the city centre. Associated with this is the splitting of what was once a single
route into two separate services. This encourages the purchase of an all-day ticket. We would
hope franchising of bundled services would define an exact route for a single numbered bus.
The numerous companies involved in public transport for our major cities make it difficult and
expensive to travel, particularly for visitors unfamiliar with our complex system. It would be
preferable for Scottish cities to have a unified public transport system like many other major
European cities.
At the time of our public meeting in 2011 it was extremely difficult to make a complaint about
bus services in Glasgow, and there was little satisfaction with what people felt were formulaic
responses.
While not the remit of the proposed act, there was concern at our public meeting about anti-
social behaviour on buses, and the lack of sufficient deterrent or solution. First Bus employ CCTV
on their vehicles, and drivers can contact the police, but there's a considerable delay between
alert and response. Low-level annoyance such as loud playing of music is very frequent and
unaddressed, as are alcohol-related problems, particularly at night. Recent work by the North-
East Glasgow team of ACES (Addictions Community Engagers) has flagged this problem, and a
solution might be to extend the recent legislation about alcohol on trains at night. We have a
community councillor with access to community-led research on this issue should this prove
helpful.
Thank you for your consideration of the foregoing.
Yours sincerely,
Wesley Wright
Secretary, on behalf of Dennistoun Community Council