First our Rail Stations, now SNP target Bus Services

As the consultation on Rail2014 and the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme end, and we await the outcomes on station closures and the future of the Queen Street to Anniesland northern line, we might have thought that that the public fury over these threats to our public transport would have taught the SNP Government that people want public transport improved, expanded but definitely not cut.

But this week I received notice from First Group of a new threat by the SNP Government to bus services.

The Bus Service Operators Grant, administered by Transport Scotland, is paid to bus operators to enable them to run services which might not otherwise be commercially viable and keep fares down.

The Scottish Government has recently informed bus operators that, from 1st April 2012, it plans to reduce the budget for the Bus Service Operators Grant by around 20%. In addition, the Scottish Government is changing the method it uses to calculate payments to operators. The combined effect could have a far reaching impact on many bus passengers, particularly those who live and travel in areas like the Glasgow conurbation.

And among the consequences First Group warn of:

  • Increased fares and a reduction in service levels – this is likely especially in cities such as Glasgow.
  • Increased pressure on local authorities – it is likely that the reduction in support will make it more expensive for local authorities to support socially necessary bus services and school services as operators will face higher costs when operating contracts. In addition, local authorities may be asked to support more services that are no longer commercially viable.

The SNP are telling people to use public transport on the one hand and are then cutting transport funding on the other. The SNP have known for months from the bus operators themselves that the scale and the speed of these cuts would have a damaging impact on the bus network, and it’s simply not good enough to try to pass the blame and expect operators to maintain current services while cutting their grant.

People are already struggling to keep pace with the rise in the cost of living and this latest news of increasing bus fares and cuts in services will hit the pockets of those hardest pressed in society and do nothing to promote greater use of public transport.

Save Our Stations – Save Our Line

The campaign to save the northern Anniesland to Queen Street rail line and stations at Kelvindale, Maryhill and Gilshochill seems to have drawn the ire of my former boss and Glasgow Region MSP, Bob Doris. In replies to constituents, Bob says;

 “Can I take this opportunity to reassure you over the future of our local railway stations. I appreciate that fears have been raised by some politicians in other parties. However let me be clear. The stations on the Maryhill line are NOT under threat.”

Now I’m not looking to fall out with my friend Bob but let’s look at the two consultations currently under way.

Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme

If you look in this document you will see not a word about any impact upon Glasgow local services. So hats off to our Constituency MSP, Patricia Ferguson, who discovered via questions at an EGIP briefing that officials are looking at the upper level platform currently used by the Maryhill line. Let’s be clear there is now a real threat that the Maryhill service will not go direct to Queen Street via Ashfield in order to free up space on the upper platform for the additional Edinburgh Service to be delivered via the £1 Billion EGIP scheme.

And indeed Bob seems to know all about this threat because in a letter on 16th January 2012 to Transport Minister Keith Brown, he says:

“I also appreciated your time in relation to discussing the possibility of an enhanced north Glasgow rail service that would connect the Maryhill and Springburn lines. I note that this may also have the benefit of reducing rail congestion on the tracks at the high level of Queen Street Station where trains enter and exit. I further note that this could be helpful to assist in the desired aims of EGIP, whilst at the same time enhancing north Glasgow rail services.”

Now I don’t know how making passengers from Gilshochill, Maryhill and Kelvindale travel to Springburn, change and then wait for another connecting train is an “enhanced service”. I’m not even sure it could be delivered which is why Transport Officials are looking at diverting the service back through Partick. But what I do know is that any Glasgow MSP worth their salt should be honest enough to advise residents in Maryhill and Kelvindale that they are going to lose the service to the upper platform in Queen Street.

Rail2014

The SNP Government, like Bob, is hiding behind its statement that it has no proposals to close Glasgow Stations. They say that the consultation” does not offer a position on stations, nor set out any plans or proposals. We are consulting on the principles, rather than the specifics..”

Problem number one for the SNP Government is that their consultation is consulting on closures.

7.11 “We would welcome views on what locations may be more appropriate for stations and which current stations are no longer required.

Problem number two is the hit list (sorry Factsheet) which contains the names of fourteen stations.

STVlocal quotes the Transport Minister Keith Brown as saying:

The fourteen stations don’t actually appear in the Transport Scotland consultation. There is a factsheet and that is where people have got this information from.” He added: “People have asked us can we list these stations. Somebody has responded to the consultation and has asked for the stations within an area and that’s why these stations have appeared on this sheet.

But here’s why I’m confused. Transport Scotland and the Minister say that the 14 named stations are provided because someone asked for a list of stations in Scotland that are in an area one mile from another. So in the Factsheet accompanying the consultation they say:

“There are some areas where there are rail stations that are located in close proximity. In the Glasgow commuter area there are 11 stations located less than one mile from another rail station offering similar services and there are three other stations in other parts of Scotland.”

But there aren’t just 14 stations within a mile of another in Scotland. In fact there are 60 and the Transport Minister should know this as he provided that detail in a written response to Labour MSP John Pentland.

So let’s be clear there is now a direct threat to the northern line from both the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme and from the Rail2014 Consultation. Constituents need to respond to both.

Save Our Stations – Save Our Line.

Save Our Stations

Kelvindale Station opened 2005

The SNP Government says it wants a passenger-centric rail service so why are Kelvindale, Gilshochill and Maryhill stations now threatened with closure and the very existence of the entire line under threat?

In the Transport Scotland document ‘Rail 2014 – Public Consultation’, launched by SNP Ministers Alex Neil and Keith Brown, Glasgow is singled out as having 11 stations located less than one mile from another rail station offering similar services. The lease costs associated with these 11 stations total £208,000.

The alternatives suggested for Gilshochill and Maryhill stations therefore are that passengers go to Summerston and that Kelvindale passengers go to Anniesland. This of course completely ignores the location of these communities, the geography of the area and the added costs of getting to these alternative stations. Why take a bus from Cadder or Maryhill to Summerston, or Kelvindale to Anniesland in order to get the train into Queen Street?

The result would be that passenger numbers would significantly drop on the line; the threat to close Ashfield on the same line underlines the threat.

At the same time, as our constituency MSP, Patricia Ferguson, has highlighted, the Edinburgh/Glasgow Improvement Programme threatens to end any remaining Queen Street, Summerston, Anniesland service by terminating the existing northern service short of Queen Street and forcing passengers to travel to the city centre via the Anniesland, Partick route instead.

Our Community Councils will be campaigning against these threats as will Maryhill Kelvin Councillors and our constituency MSP. You can also help by letting friends and neighbours know about the threat and encourage them to support the campaign to save our stations.

Let the SNP Government know you oppose this threat to our stations and rail line by sending your views on the consultation to:

[email protected]k

Postal submissions should be sent to:

Rail2014, Transport Scotland, Buchanan House, 58 Port Dundas Road, Glasgow G4 0HF

The closing date for the consultation is 20 February 2012

Cleveden Parent Power

Congratulations to Cleveden Parent Council on the success of their bus service for pupils. The bus, run in conjunction with the school, was given a trial run earlier this year and has proved such a success it is hoped it will run for the rest of the school year.

Pupils can pay 75p per single journey. The bus will follow the same route as the service bus i.e. the Acre Road bus. The route to the school is:

8.28 am Acre Road/Maryhill Road/Arrochar Street/ Invershiel Road/Caldercuilt Road / Rothes Drive/ to Cleveden Secondary.

The bus is being funded by the Parent Council and the school.  Ward Councillors were also happy to provide additional funding via Maryhill Kelvin Area Committee.

New 20mph mandatory zone for Cadder

One of the regular concerns raised by residents is about speeding and the dangers it poses. I’m therefore glad to see that Land and Environmental Services are now carrying out a preliminary consultation on the introduction of a new mandatory 20mph zone in Cadder.

The city’s Health Commission has already stated that there is clear evidence this will save young lives, reduce the severity of injuries and prevent accidents in our neighbourhoods. The measures will also benefit elderly and disabled residents and will help to put a clear emphasis in favour of people rather than the car.

After consultation, and once a traffic order is passed, signs will be placed at each entry and exit point of the new zones. These would be at the entrances into Cadder at Tresta Road and Skirsa Street.

On most of our residential roads, it’s neither safe nor appropriate to drive any faster than 20mph already – many are narrow, or in the case of Cadder, lined with park cars. I hope that the community will welcome this new mandatory zone as a step in the right direction to address traffic concerns in the area. 

And of course I hope the scheme can be rolled out in other areas of the ward as well.

New Bus Shelters

Land and Environmental Services have written to advise us of a programme to deliver new bus shelters in the ward.

“I am pleased to inform you that Glasgow City Council in partnership with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) will be implementing a city wide shelter replacement programme funded by SPT’s capital shelter replacement fund. This programme of works will replace approximately 270 shelters in the Glasgow area outwith key streamline corridors with high quality steel shelters illuminated with solar lighting wherever possible.

The shelter replacement programme will commence on the 26 September 2011 until Spring 2012. This will reduce the remaining aging budget shelter stock and reinforce Glasgow’s commitment to improving the image and attractiveness of bus travel.”

In the Maryhill Kelvin ward these wil mean replacement shelters at stops in Skirsa Street, Dorchester Avenue, Cleveden Road, Garrioch Road, Hotspur Street, Thornton Street and Glenburn Street

Road Resurfacing

pothole

Land and Environmental Services have confirmed that Burnhouse Street, Winton Drive, Fairhaven Road and Cleveden Drive are now part of the second phase of road repairs and resurfacing in the Maryhill/Kelvin ward. I’ve had lots of feedback on the poor state of roads and pavements in the ward  so glad to see that, allowing the Labour Council don’t cut funding, the third phase of carriageway resurfacing will include Cumlodden Drive, Sandbank Street, Arrochar Street, Herma Street, Tresta Road and Thornton Street.

There’s still lots to do but I’m promised repairs within 2 weeks on any potholes identified in the ward so keep the calls and e-mails coming in.