It could see other methods of transport, even taxis, being provided for passengers, but paid for by the council using cash from a franchise agreement with bus firms.
Transport bosses have been concerned that privately owned bus operators have withdrawn services which are considered socially necessary but do not generate profit.
Councils say they are unable to fund a reinstatement of all services.
It has been noted that areas that are cut off from the main transport routes and where people have no access to a car are becoming increasingly isolated, especially at night and on Sundays when services are more likely to be withdrawn.
Richard Brown, Executive Director of Development and Regeneration at Glasgow City Council, said: "The most obvious means of alleviating current difficulties in funding socially necessary bus services would be a re-introduction of cross-subsidy, as practised prior to bus deregulation.
"However, a return to the previously existing arrangements whereby the local authority directly provided bus services is unrealistic, particularly in current financial circumstances."
The public/private franchise system being suggested would see only services that are thought profitable included in the franchise and the council would provide transport in whatever form is thought most cost effective for others, which would be paid for from the payments from the franchise holder.
Mr Brown added: "For those routes where bus services cannot be provided commercially by the private sector, public transport would be provided by alternative modes, subsidised by the council where necessary, using income derived from the franchise."
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) has previously called for the public sector to be allowed to provide services when commercial operators fail to provide them, but would not allow for any cross-subsidy from the private sector profits and could be costly.
Earlier this year SPT decided to fund temporary contracts to maintain bus links in four affected areas until June, while long-term arrangements are made.
A spokesman for SPT said: "We are constantly looking at ways to improve the quality and reliability of bus services.
"In fact we have presented a robust bus strategy to the Scottish Government recommending ways to do that.
"SPT Partnership members are also committed to our scheme to provide better bus infrastructure and services for our customers across the region."