At the Council’s Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction committee this week Councillors received an update on Glasgow’s Climate Plan, a culmination of a great deal of work which will hopefully give us a blueprint on how we truly tackle the ongoing climate and ecological emergency.

Taking bold action on public transport is crucial to tackling the climate emergency and making sure that all of our communities benefit as our city starts to recover and prosper once again. I’ve highlighted in the past the additional challenges we now have in regards to getting people back on to our buses, trains and underground post-pandemic, and we must be doing what we can to address those anxieties as we see more people being vaccinated and life begin to get back to some sort of normality.

But even before the pandemic we know our public transport network wasn’t perfect, private bus companies have failed Glaswegians with increased fares, unreliable services and the removal of vital, socially-necessary routes that has left communities isolated. As we talk about building back better and putting people first in that recovery, our transport network must be included in that.

Glaswegians have been telling us for years that they don’t feel there is any incentive to ditch the car and instead opt for public transport and for others it is a real accessibility issue. In March I attended a public meeting held by Free Our City to hear from people from across the city on why we must explore rolling out free public transport, I committed then to do all I could to ensure it was included in our Climate Plan and yesterday I was delighted to move an amendment, that was supported unanimously, to do just that. Cities across the globe are already introducing free public transport: it’s only right that Glasgow continues to look at how we become the next one on that list.

It would be a step in the right direction but there is more that needs to be done. Since I last wrote about transport in my column, we have seen bold progress made in other parts of the UK. The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, announced a bold, forward looking plan for his region to bring buses back under public control and now he will do it one year sooner than initially planned. We’ve also seen similar plans in West Yorkshire with their newly elected Mayor, Tracy Brabin who within just days of taking office has already made a commitment to not only reform bus services but to ensure they are publicly-run.

Both Burnham and Brabin are examples of pro-active politicians who see the issues impacting the cities and villages that make up their areas, listen to those communities, and stand up for them in the face of an obstructionist central Government.

There are blueprints on how it can be done, how we can create a better bus & transport network for everyone regardless of where they live in our city. Finally connecting our communities like never before and addressing the serious issues around accessibility and affordability.

All we need is the political will.