IN a year’s time, I hope we can look back on 2024 as the year that Glasgow finally began to improve its fractured and dysfunctional public transport system.

Despite having the lowest average number of cars per household out of Britain’s 10 biggest cities, public transport across Glasgow is appalling compared to other British and European cities of a similar size; buses are unreliable and don’t serve many areas of Greater Glasgow, while the Subway and suburban ScotRail services stop operating at a ridiculously early hour.

Nevertheless, there are real opportunities in the year ahead for the city to set in motion the modernisation of its public transport system that has been needed for so long.

A key power, secured by a Labour amendment to the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019, finally came into force at the start of December.

It enables the regional transport body, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), to introduce a franchised bus network.

Bus franchising is transformative, and we should seize the opportunity with both hands just as the mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has.

Manchester has turned back the clock on the decades of deregulation started by Margaret Thatcher in the 1985 Transport Act, and Glasgow can now do the same.

Franchising the bus network will allow SPT to increase the frequency of services across the region – such a move will reverse the slashing of the night bus service which happened earlier this year.

SPT will also be able to establish new bus routes, something that many areas of Greater Glasgow are crying out for.

Establishing new bus routes in areas that currently have no bus access will unlock economic potential.

Critically, franchising will also mean that SPT can cap fares.

At present, bus fares across Greater Glasgow are the highest of any British city and need to be reduced to encourage people to use the service.

Currently a single fare costs £2.85 in Glasgow on privatised First Bus buses compared to £2 in Edinburgh on publicly owned Lothian Buses, while bus fares are also capped at £2 across England.

In the last few weeks, you might have noticed the first of a fleet of 17 new trains on Glasgow’s Subway. These are the first new trains to enter circulation on the unusually narrow-gauge underground railway for 43 years and they’ll initially run alongside the old 1980 Metro-Cammell-built trains. The new trains will eventually, once the transition period is over, run fully unattended.

Once driverless trains are completely in play, there is no reason why the Subway should not extend its hours significantly with the aim of eventually moving to a 24-hour service. Doing so would supercharge Glasgow’s night-time economy, boosting hospitality and retail at a time they so badly need it.

It is also my hope that ScotRail will extend its operating hours.

With most services terminating before midnight, people must cut short their visits to night-time venues in order to make the last train home and avoid being stranded in the city centre.

This really impacts the trade in pubs, clubs and bars across the city.

At the beginning of December, ScotRail announced that over the festive period it would extend operating hours. A precedent has been set, and with that, Scotrail should be looking to make it a permanent arrangement.

2024 is the year Glasgow can finally make some key moves to start sorting out its woeful public transport.

I am hopeful that this time next year, Glasgow will have seized these opportunities with bus, rail and Subway and began delivering a better public service for all Glaswegians.