Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has submitted the final business case for its core Fastlink bus rapid transit scheme to the Scottish Government.
Members of SPT’s Strategy & Programmes Committee heard on Friday (16 September) that work could begin later this month on the ultra-modern bus operation linking the city centre with the Commonwealth Games area at the SECC and the new Southern General Hospital.
This enhanced Fastlink network would boost the number of people using public transport, cut congestion and improve bus journey times by up to 20%.
The £40 million package of improvements will then act as a catalyst for bringing key bus corridors running in and out of Glasgow up to ‘Fastlink Standard’, making it a regional-wide scheme.
This revised Fastlink builds on what was previously proposed by SPT, as project sponsor, in conjunction with Glasgow City Council which will act as the delivery agent.
The initial route focuses on running along the Clydeside via the International Financial Services District, the SECC, Govan and the new Southern General Hospital but will now also utilise the city centre’s main bus corridors to improve journey times and travel options further.
It will also link in with the city’s key interchanges at Central Station, Queen Street Station and Buchanan Street Bus Station and potentially with the Subway.
Significant investment will be allocated to Glasgow’s Union Street alone – a key congestion ‘hot spot’ – with a six-stance bus hub to be installed along with signalling upgrades and lane improvements to give buses priority access.
Bus lanes, bus gates and bus turning facilities will also be installed at key points around the city centre.
Other improvements will see real time passenger information installed at bus stops and stances and number plate recognition CCTV brought in to deter drivers of other vehicles taking advantage of bus-only routes.
Fastlink-branded buses will also have smartcard technology as standard with the intention of linking up with the planned Glasgow Subway smartcard technology, bringing seamless multi-modal travel one step closer for passengers.
The Scottish Government has already committed to making a capital contribution to deliver the core Fastlink project and discussions are ongoing on what this will amount to.
SPT Chairman Jonathan Findlay said:
“An enhanced Fastlink will be a fantastic legacy for transport in Glasgow and provide key links in and out of the city centre. We know we can reduce bus journey times by 20% and, with dedicated controlled bus corridors, make city centre bottlenecks like Union Street a thing of the past.
“Direct links from Glasgow’s existing bus and rail hubs to the SECC – a key Commonwealth Games site – and along the Clyde corridor taking in the new South Glasgow Hospital and will make public transport a credible alternative to the car.
“But for SPT it’s not just about Glasgow, it’s about bringing in a ‘Fastlink Standard’ that can be mirrored across Strathclyde with other corridors improved running outwards and onwards to neighbouring councils in Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire providing a superb solution to congestion.”
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said:
“Fastlink promises reliable, quality public transport which will make Glasgow more sustainable, healthier and a more attractive place in which to live, work and invest.
“The Clyde has been transformed in recent years and Fastlink will not only provide better access to the new employment, leisure and retail developments that regeneration has attracted, but also help tackle traffic congestion and pollution in the city centre.
“Bringing it into the city centre would clearly have benefits and we will continue to work with SPT to develop this potential.”
Ralph Roberts, managing director of McGill’s Buses and Chair of CPT Scotland said:
“Every bus company serious about providing a quality service for their passengers will be eager to sign up to a Fastlink agreement. Reducing journey times and operating high-quality vehicles on dedicated Fastlink routes will make travelling by bus a very attractive proposition – and this can only be good for business. The resulting reduction in exhaust emissions and congestion in Glasgow cannot be understated or overlooked either. Commuters, tourists, and locals alike will enjoy a vibrant city centre with cleaner air and less traffic.”
“I firmly believe that Fastlink will revolutionise bus travel in and around Glasgow, and with SPT, the Scottish Government and bus operators working together to improve services for passengers, it really will be a win-win.”