Pressure is mounting on the government and transport operators to bring buses into public control after lobbying groups joined forces to present a 10,000-signature petition to SPT.

The Better Buses for Strathclyde campaign made its demands to a meeting of the board of Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) on Friday, holding a demonstration outside the transit body's head office.

New franchising powers introduced at Holyrood must be used to regulate the bus network across the Strathclyde region, groups say, with a new publicly-owned bus company.

Organisations including Get Glasgow Moving, the STUC, Friends of the Earth Scotland, and the Poverty Alliance want to see franchising efforts similar to those used in London and Manchester give SPT the power to set fares, routes, ticketing arrangements, and bus branding.

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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 Herald:

"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."

Bus companies such as McGill's and First Bus have consistently pushed back against the calls to franchise the bus network saying the issues disrupting timetables and services - such as traffic congestion - would not be eased by franchising.

In November last year Sandy Easdale, co-owner of McGill's Buses, called for SPT to be disbanded in response to a report suggesting the transport partnership is best placed to organise a bus franchise in Glasgow.

Mr Easdale was scathing of SPT Chief Executive Valerie Davidson, saying she "has had her head filled with nonsense by wacky activists and now she’s planning a power grab by her organisation which has sucked on the government teat for years."

However, campaigners 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.

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."

Peter Kelly of the Poverty Alliance said that bringing buses under public control and public ownership could make a "significant difference" in controlling costs of buses.

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

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"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.

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.

The Herald:

"Bringing buses back into public control is the first step in making sure it’s available and affordable for everyone."

Labour MSP Paul Sweeney has consistently backed bus franchising and called the support for the petition "fantastic".

He added: "As we approach the announcement of the 15-year Strathclyde Regional Bus Strategy, it is critical that SPT decide to emulate other city regions like Greater Manchester by opting to use the legislative powers available to reregulate the buses through a new regional bus franchise for Greater Glasgow.

"A bus franchise model will ensure that public control is established over timetabling, the route network, fares, fleet standards, wi-fi, live tracking, branding, and integrated ticketing through control of the farebox.

"These are all the key ingredients needed to fix Glasgow's broken bus system.

"The alternative model of a toothless ‘Bus Service Improvement Partnership’ would be a disastrous mistake that would simply entrench the failure of the current privatised buses for another generation."