The Government should not be expected to pay the bill for bus franchising, according to a leading independent operator.

The Glasgow Times reported how an SNP councillor, Malcolm Mitchell, has called on the council to ask the Scottish and UK governments to fund the £15m it is expected to cost to get to the stage where franchising can be put in place for Glasgow.

On top of that it is estimated to cost between £45m and £85 a year in additional public subsidy to run a franchise model.

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Now, McGill's Buses, which is vehemently opposed to franchising, has said councillors cannot expect government to pay for it.

Instead, the firm said councils should take decisions on car use that would allow buses to make quicker journeys with less congestion.

Ralph Roberts, McGill’s chief executive, said: “In our discussions with the then Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, when the Transport Act that permitted franchising was being formed, he was very clear that if local authorities want to use these powers, they would have to find the money in their own budgets and central government would not be footing the bill.

“He was also very clear that there would need to be a significant improvement in services as a result or it would not be allowed. If that rule was in place in England, the Bee Network in Manchester wouldn't have happened as the improvements have been marginal at best.”

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Mr Roberts offered advice on improving bus services without more regulation.

He added: “Of course, everyone wants better buses, no one more so than bus operators.

 “The first step is to fix the roads and give buses more road space.

“Clearing the main arteries of parking is the easiest and cheapest way to do this - it costs only paint so what is the delay?”

He said however, it would upset car owners.

He added: “Councillor Mitchell’s plea for funding from central government is essentially a call to run up a huge bill so councillors don’t have to make difficult decisions that will prove unpopular with motorists.”

The bus boss said if councils want a “world-class bus network” they should put in place “world-class roads and public transport infrastructure”.

He added: “Fixing congestion works. Cities which are actually run as 'world-class' destinations have proved this. It reduces bus operating costs and those savings can be ploughed into more services and lower fares.”

The Scottish Government has previously said there is £5m available to councils across the country from its Community Bus Fund to improve services, including exploring franchising.