The minister in charge of bus policy has refused to say whether the Scottish Government will provide funding for a bus franchising plan in Glasgow.

Jim Fairlie was asked about SPT’s decision to pursue a franchising model for buses in the greater Glasgow area.

It has been estimated to cost £15 million to do preparatory work and then between £45m and £85m a year to subsidise the operation.

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John Mason, SNP MSP for Shettleston, asked him if there would be cash available from the government.

He said: “There’s little point in them doing that work, I suspect, if they’re not going to get the money.”

He asked: “Does the minister think the money should come entirely from the councils or would any of it come from the Scottish Government?”

Fairlie said more work was needed to ensure the case for franchising was robust.

He told the Scottish Parliament: “We would encourage all local transport authorities to explore all of the options available to them to improve bus services in their area.

“I understand SPT is at an early stage in the development of the regional bus strategy which is looking at a range of options for improving services.

“As this develops they will require more detailed appraisals to determine which of the various options to progress with.

“In a climate of increasing financial pressure, it is important that the business case for improving bus services is made robustly in an evidenced-based way to support future decision making on funding.”

Ivan McKee, Provan SNP MSP, asked if there was money available could it be used now to support services that are considered uneconomic.

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The minister responded that there was money in the General revenue grant that could be used to support existing services.

Earlier this month following the SPT decision on franchising McGill’s Buses said they would resist franchising and take legal action to present it describing it as “theft” of a business they had built up over more than 20 years.

Campaigners who had been hoping for SPT to pursue the option of a publicly-owned bus services said the decision was “bittersweet” as it would provide greater public control but not ownership.