A CAMPAIGN backed by 10,000 calling for publicly-owned bus services in Scotland has been delivered to ministers.

Campaigners from Get Glasgow Moving and Community Scotland say the move should start in Scotland's biggest city, claiming there is a "huge inequality" in the nation's bus network.

In Edinburgh, where publicly-owned Lothian Buses run most of the routes,single ticket fares at the start of the year were just £1.70. They are introducing an electric fleet and campaigners point to passenger numbers increasing.

Last year the city's public transport was voted 'second best in the UK’ after London, where bus fares are just £1.50.

Meanwhile in Glasgow where private companies run the network typical single fares are £2.30 - 35% more expensive.

HeraldScotland:

First Glasgow said that the private sector was better placed to access the finance to deliver low emission and high quality buses.

Activists were in Edinburgh to hand over a petition and protest outside the parliament building say that better bus services will encourage people to leave their cars at home and help reduce carbon emissions.

The campaign supported by Friends of the Earth Scotland calls for changes in Glasgow, but protesters say they want to see public ownership across Scotland.

Friends of the Earth Scotland has raisedconcerns that bus passenger numbers have fallen by 22% in the last ten years, and 3.5% in the last year alone.

And the petition campaigners believe amendments to the Scottish Government's new Transport Bill offers a "chance for change" by offering the option for public ownership.

The petitioners which want public ownership in Glasgow first, claimed routes are cut when they are not seen as ‘commercially viable’ and the average age of a bus is 10 years old.

Ellie Harrison of Get Glasgow Moving who organised the protest said: "We want a world class fully integrated, publicly owned public transport for everyone, to encourage people to use it rather than cars. We want something that can rival what a lot of European cities are offering at the moment. We want something to rival the kind of integrated service that you get in London, where your buses, your trains and subway all work together to serve the whole city.

HeraldScotland: "We feel things are weighted toward private bus companies. And when you compare what happens in Edinburgh to Glasgow, we see that as clear evidence of where public ownership works and works in favour of passengers.

The petition, which was launched following anger over fare increases of up to 40 percent introduced by First Bus in January, also calls for affordable, integrated ticketing, with a city-wide smartcard and daily price cap.

It calls for bike-hire stations across the city, with free access for concessionary card holders.

They want a publicly-owned Transport Authority for Glasgow, with power over the entire transport network.

And it calls for a "coordinated, long-term vision and investment" to meet the city’s transport needs.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Emilia Hanna said: “Passengers are here to show that there is huge demand for public ownership of buses. The Transport Bill gives Parliament a fantastic opportunity to transform the way buses are run.

"People are very angry at poor bus services across many areas in Scotland. Fares are going up while services are being cut and it’s not surprising that passenger numbers are falling dramatically.

“By increasing bus use we can cut air pollution and congestion, reduce climate emissions, and make our towns and cities better places to spend time. The majority of people want buses in public ownership and MSPs need to heed these calls."

HeraldScotland: Andrew Jarvis of First Scotland, left, with Andrew Dobbie of MadeBrave

Andrew Jarvis (left), managing director for First Glasgow said: "Our fares in Glasgow start from £1.60 and our weekly tickets are substantially cheaper than those of publicly-owned Lothian Buses at just £15.50 rather than £19. We also offer a range of cut price tickets for children, students, regular commuters and those job seeking. 

“We firmly believe that local authorities should have the capacity, skills and finance to effectively plan and deliver a transport strategy that tackles congestion, keeps the roads and pavements in good order, deals with parking infringements and maintains, manages and cleans the infrastructure that people who use bus services need, such as bus stations and bus stops.

“The private sector is much better placed to access the finance to deliver the fleet of low emission and high quality buses that customers now demand whilst being able to be fully responsive and agile to the changing market as people’s travel habits change.

“Recent research by KPMG highlighted that 75% of the factors that impact upon bus use are not within bus operators’ control.  These factors, such as congestion, cheap parking and changing shopping habits, will simply not be remedied by who owns what bus.

“First are investing millions in new, greener vehicles, apps that make travel easier irrespective of mode, free customer wifi, improved technology that has provided mobile ticketing and contactless payments on all our vehicles and services and have kept fares lower than the UK average despite costs rising and government support declining.

“Working in partnership playing to the strengths of all organisations involved is the best way to deliver for the people of Glasgow, not some stale regulatory debate.”