“We need fewer cars”

Those are the words of Glasgow City Council’s convenor of sustainability and carbon reduction, Anna Richardson.

She was speaking in a meeting of transport experts, campaigners and bus firms during the SNP Conference in Glasgow earlier this week.

Ms Richardson said it was a “horrible political truth”.

The council has for years skirted around that ‘truth’ while trying to implement measures to reduce pollution and congestion in the city centre.

Glasgow has among the lowest rates of car ownership of major cities but still has huge congestion problems.

It has the slowest bus speeds in the UK and that includes London and fewer and fewer people are using buses.

The council needs to grasp that ‘truth’ and implement serious measures that will reduce congestion and pollution and get the city and not just the city centre flowing freely.

The Low Emission Zone which Nicola Sturgeon announced will be approved allows the council to ban buses if they don’t meet the strictest of emissions standards.

This is good news but is only the start. It will be of little use if we have the cleanest buses but have old cars, vans and trucks spewing out fumes into the air and into our lungs.

The city centre is still largely a transport free for all.

Transport expert David Begg said that Glasgow is far less car restrictive than cities like Edinburgh and London and that it is cheaper to drive in Glasgow.

There has been a fear for years that restricting or banning cars from the city centre would hit the retail trade and push people to out of town shopping malls.

The out of town shopping mall is no longer the biggest threat to the city centre stores, it is internet shopping and next day delivery.

Allowing cars to come into the city hasn’t prevented the closure of shops and the sad demise of Sauchiehall Street and Trongate.

Do we need fewer cars or do we just need to be less wedded to them and not make every journey by private motor car so they are not all on the road at the same time?

We all have a role to play in reducing pollution. For those who do have cars it shouldn’t mean we never take the bus or train.

There are alternatives to using the car for every journey especially for getting into the city centre with bus , trains subway, walking an cycling opportunities that most people can find another method.

For the bus companies making bus journey as efficient, cost effective and quick as possible can help persuade people to use the bus.

That’s where the council can help. More bus priority at junctions and bus lanes would help improve journey speeds.

More car free streets and bus gates in the city centre and plenty of park and ride sites around the city can help take cars out of the centre.

And yes, maybe it is time to look at a car free zone, it will be politically challenging but should at least be fully explored.

All I am saying is give bus a chance…and train, and subway, and walking and cycling