GLASGOW’s main bus network is facing its biggest revamp since the millennium.
Operator First today announced it will both boost frequencies on key routes and slash duplicate and minor services across the city.
The bus giant admits its new scheme will involve a slight cutback in the overall volume of services but insists most passengers will see an improvement.
First is styling the change as a “simplification” – with many routes rebranded as “Simplicity”.
This will see some services, for example, from big peripheral schemes in to the city centre merged, renumbered and run more frequently.
Ronnie Park, First Glasgow’s managing director, said: “Simplicity will give our customers confidence that they can expect a bus every ten minutes or better during the day.
“We want to make life easier for passengers so they know a bus will arrive at a bus stop within a matter of minutes.”
First is just the latest Scottish bus firm to consolidate and simplify routes, sometimes causing anger among those who lose axed services.
However, the launch of Simplicity is the first revamp of its scale since the so-called ‘Overground’ network was launched in Glasgow in the late 1990s.
The proposed new network will be slightly smaller.
Mr Park today confirmed there would be a reduction in vehicle mileage.
Mr Park argues that several major Glasgow routes in to the centre are served by multiple services.
This, he says, can mean different buses turning up at the same time – or big gaps between buses. In the new, simplified network buses should be more evenly spaced out – with waits no longer than 10 minutes on core “Simplicity” services.
First is today launching a consultation on its changes, which it insists are not “set in stone”.
Mr Park said he would happily reconsider changes to the plan.
He said: “We don’t change bus routes willy-nilly. If there is anything in the new network that needs to be put right, we will do so. There is plenty of time.
“The Commonwealth Games are coming next year and we really want Glasgow to have a simple and understandable bus network for them.”
The public consultation will end on March 1. First will then fine-tune its plans with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), the regional transport agency, before putting them to its industry watchdog, the Traffic Commissioner.
The new network should be running by May 12.
The network changes will extend well beyond Glasgow to commuter towns such as Balloch and East Kilbride.
A couple of services – the 189 and the 92 – are to be axed altogether but most others will be combined or replaced by others.
First Glasgow currently runs 80 different routes in and around the city, carrying 114million passengers a year.
It operates more than 950 buses from seven depots –Larkfield, Scotstoun, Parkhead, Blantyre, Overtown, Cumbernauld and Dumbarton – and employs around 2730 people.