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October 24, 2012

A model for the future

Transport is part of a community’s central nervous system – like health, housing, access to jobs, schools – it’s an essential part of daily life and often taken for granted until something goes wrong. In Glasgow’s Drumchapel, it went wrong.  The bus operator took the commercial decision to pull out, leaving the largely car-less community stranded and cut off from the rest of the city.  The public-community sector partnership that evolved in response to this crisis may yet  be a template for the rest of the country.


Lack of transport is a problem we more readily identify with rural areas but surprisingly there are some districts in our major cities where there are no bus services – not just in the evenings but at any time.

 This was the situation in the Drumchapel area of Glasgow when earlier this year the main commercial bus operator for the area withdrew their services. This left hundreds of local residents without decent public transport to surrounding areas and Glasgow city centre thus cutting them off from all sorts of basic amenities, shops and health services. Drumchapel’s hilly topography meant that elderly residents couldn’t walk the long distances to their nearest bus service and so were in danger of becoming isolated in their homes.

Community Transport Glasgow (CTG) and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) got together and worked out a way forward. Using a little used piece of transport legislation and with the provision of vehicles from SPT they were able to work out a new model of local bus service. Using small buses a new flexible “hail and ride” service has been established which picks people up anywhere on the Drumchapel estates and takes them to the nearest transport hubs so that they can then connect with mainstream transport to take them round the city. In a few months’ time when the pattern of use has been established a route will be designed and a timetable set up which meets the needs of the local residents.

“ This is a great example of partnership really working in practice. “ said John MacDonald, Director for Scotland at the Community Transport Association. “CTG have been innovative in the way they have set this service up and SPT have been extremely supportive which means that Drumchapel residents now have a viable local bus service.”     

Details of Community Transport Association’s forthcoming conference can be viewed here.