BACK in 1976 I moved into a brand spanking new student flat. 

It was part of a major complex of student residences and the entire area had been landscaped and tarmacadam paths snaked their way from one block to the other. When I say snaked, I mean snaked, they had maybe looked interesting on a plan but they made little sense on the ground. Very quickly, alternative paths sprung up; bare patches across the grass which followed straight lines and were obviously the quickest way from point A to point B. Hardly anyone used the designated walkways.

Some years later I was to learn that these are called “desire lines”. They also serve as a metaphor for a whole range of issues in public policy. Whatever the good intentions of politicians and planners, the wisdom of the crowd often identifies an alter-native, far more convenient, path.

Within the last week Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has published its latest discussion document to bring the public transport network serving the greater Glasgow area into the 21st century. For our Victorian forebears such discussions were simpler, it was purely about moving people around the city whether for work or pleasure. Today, the issue of climate change has added a whole new layer of difficulty and priorities.

Essentially, we must create a transport network which replaces the car as the obvious and convenient option for most people and the vast majority of journeys. That is no easy task. 

The post-war development of vast peripheral housing estates and commuter towns has gone hand in hand with the exponential growth in car ownership. The public transport infrastructure, much of it still rooted in the needs of the late 1900s, has never yet offered a sensible alternative.

Labour is clear that in order to reach a solution there will need to be far greater investment at both a locally and across Scotland. Nor will the solution be delivered simply by leaving things to the private sector. There will have to be significant increase in the level of at least public control and in some instances public ownership. 

I love my car. Despite the fact I now qualify for free bus travel, I rarely use the facility.

The growing sense of guilt and, yes, hypocrisy that I feel has not yet persuaded me to follow the path which I absolutely know is the only sustainable future. That is the challenge we face: public transport policy and provision has to become the obvious and convenient choice, even for old petrolheads like me.