HOW do Glaswegians and those in our neighbouring towns get to and from work, into town, off to see friends and relatives or out for the evening?

Well, despite having the most connected rail network outside of London the answer is that five times as many of us use the bus as the train.

And I really do mean ‘us’. In the main I use the bus to get to and from the City Chambers.

I’m hopeful that many of the issues which have dogged the rail network in the last year or so are coming to an end, with the upgrading works nearing completion and a new fleet of trains coming on line.

But we have deeper, longer-term issues for the hundreds of thousands who live nowhere near the network. Combined with the lowest car ownership rates on these islands and the emergence of new but poorly connected housing, business and retail developments you can see why so many of us rely on the bus as our primary mode of transport. But there’s the problem.

Frankly the offer from our bus sector and the environment it operates in right now just isn’t good enough. Low car ownership but falling bus patronage isn’t a good place for our city, our residents or, for that matter, the bus industry to be. We need to turn that around.

Be it due to affordability or accessibility, the people who need it most are struggling to get to the places they need to get to. The need for a better performing bus sector is an issue which sits at the heart of social inclusion and public health in Glasgow.

Last week I addressed a summit in London on the UK Bus Industry. Attended by UK Government ministers, leading practitioners, bus companies, policy makers and agencies such as Transport For London.

I spelled out to those in attendance my frustration that buses travel at an average speed of three miles per hour in the city centre, and how congestion is the key contributor to pollution on our streets, some of the worst, deadliest, levels on these islands. This doesn’t work for our passengers or the bus industry. Something’s got to give.

Through feedback from our local communities, we know that lack of connectivity is limiting inclusive growth, and the negative impact that has on individuals, on business and on the city. Our people tell us we have a public transport problem.

Transport is just one areas I have been determined to bring a freshness of approach to, to challenge what for too long have been the expected structures and relationships. We are laying foundations for change and we want those foundations built upon soon so our citizens benefit within the lifetime of this first SNP administration.

Less than a fortnight ago the Glasgow Connectivity Commission, which includes leader thinkers and practitioners from the worlds of transport, business, planning, academia and the third sector met for the first time to determine a clear way forward for our city and its region. The bus sector will be absolutely crucial to that. It simply cannot fail to be.

Their remit is their largely own but they will provide ideas on how to build a sustainable future for public transport. They must now be allowed to get on with their work and we can expect to see some of their work by the summer.

Meanwhile, the agreements we have with the bus sector, which are limited to the quality of the actual fleet and emissions, are coming to end really quite soon. That renewal provides another platform for us to have meaningful discussions with the bus operators about our increased mutual expectations in a changing landscape. We in the city need to recognise that a lot of this is in our power. And the bus industry needs to recognise that we need to get our people onto their vehicles. That surely is basic business sense.

I have made no secret of my desire to see a Transport for Glasgow and see this as a longer term aspiration for the city region.

And a new national Transport Bill will also look at the governance of bus sector and could provide us with the teeth we believe is needed on fares and service and issues such as smart ticketing.

Better transport is central to our ambitions for a successful city economy, improved social outcomes and reduced inequalities. A buoyant, affordable, accessible bus sector delivering for our citizens is central to that.

Last Friday I had the honour of helping launch Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland, a programme all of us involved hope and believe can assist in creating a new future for our children.

Too often the children denied opportunity at the early stages of life are the same people we see in their teens and early 20s as mere statistics.

But if we get this generation right then there is every hope rest should flow from there.

Children’s Neighbourhoods Scotland brings together three of the this city’s pioneers in so much they do, the University of Glasgow, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health and Glasgow City Council and looks to pull together all the resources and partners involved in creating a better future for young people.

Based initially in Bridgeton and Dalmarnock, it follows on from very successful initiatives in New York and further developed in England by Save The Children but will take a uniquely Scottish approach.

Dalmarnock Primary will be the heartbeat of this project. The school already has the reputation as a community hub. Its successful Homework Club grew into the summer club and from that came many supports for children and their families. The plan is to extend this type of working even further, for all children and young people in the area from 0-18, then from neighbourhood to national. We all want to put poverty in its place and this project will take a stride to delivering that.