Protesters stood in the rain demanding better bus services in Scotland.

Crowds were pictured outside Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) offices on Hope Street this morning with banners and flags.

It comes as thousands of people have put their names to a petition begging for local buses to be returned to public control.

Glasgow Times: Protesters stood outside SPT officesProtesters stood outside SPT offices (Image: Newsquest)

The Better Buses for Strathclyde campaign handed in the signatures at a meeting of the board held on Friday, February 23.

The petition calls on SPT and the Scottish Government to use new franchising powers to regulate buses across the Strathclyde region. It now has nearly 10,000 signatures.

The mission is supported by organisations including Get Glasgow Moving, the STUC, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and the Poverty Alliance.

Glasgow Times: The petition has been handed inThe petition has been handed in (Image: Newsquest)

Franchising is already used in London and Manchester, and would give SPT the power to set fares, routes, ticketing arrangements, and bus branding.

Campaigners also want SPT to set up a new publicly-owned bus company for the region, saying that it has the potential to save millions of pounds a year that could be invested in better services.

Ellie Harrison of Get Glasgow Moving said: "More than half of the income of private bus companies in Scotland comes from the public purse, so it's just wrong that the public has no control over how those buses are run. The companies can charge what they like and cancel services when they like.

"We want our buses, trains, and subway to be run as one system, making them more efficient, cheaper for passengers, and much easier for them to get where they need to go. Regulating local buses is a vital first step."

Glasgow Times: Protesters are hoping for changeProtesters are hoping for change (Image: Colin Mearns)

Imogen Dow, head of campaigns at Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "Transport is Scotland’s biggest source of climate emissions, so we need cheap, reliable and easy to use public transport that allows people to get around without cars.

"We need to start thinking of public transport as an essential service, like education or health. Bringing buses back into public control is the first step in making sure it’s available and affordable for everyone."

Roz Foyer, General Secretary of the STUC, said: "We need public transport to be run for people, not profit. Regulation of our buses should be the first step towards public ownership - and the Scottish Government can make that a reality.

"It's time to end days when private companies can make millions of pounds in profits while getting away with providing bus services that are too-often unaffordable and inadequate, undermining our social and economic prosperity."

Glasgow Times: Protesters held banners and signsProtesters held banners and signs (Image: Newsquest)

Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said: "Bringing buses under public control and public ownership could make a significant difference in controlling the costs of this vital public service.

"When public transport works well, it allows people to access jobs, training, education, healthcare, childcare, and other public services.

"It gives people freedom to build a life beyond poverty.

"Other areas of England are looking to follow Manchester's lead, and it important for our anti-poverty ambitions that Scotland is not left behind."

The first tranche of Manchester's buses were brought under regulation in September last year, sharing a new 'Bee Network' brand and ticketing arrangements with the city's trams.

"Research has found that the city's regulated buses are already proving to be more reliable than both previous and existing commercial services.