One of the worst areas for air quality is around Hope Street and Renfield Street: the streets where almost all bus routes cut through the city centre which could lead to the conclusion that buses are the cause of the high level of pollutants. However, elevated levels of pollution are found throughout the city and the high peak on these particularly busy streets would be similar if cars were sitting there instead of buses. Allowing the buses to traverse this area more quickly will help and this could be facilitated by enforcing bus lane restrictions (i.e. only allowing buses, taxis and cyclists to use them). Rather cynically, the Labour Party controlled council has chosen this week to begin enforcement of bus lanes that have been abused for several years. Those supporting better public transport will look forward to improved services while those flouting the rules will not recieve their penalty notice until after the election...
So what policies do the parties propose to improve mobility around the city and improve the air quality?
Scottish Labour Party (currently have 39/79 seats)
The Labour Party have been in control of the city council so one has to ask why they haven't been working with the bus companies to improve services before now, although they will if elected. They do propose introduction of an integrated multi-modal smart card and provision of cycling hubs.
Scottish Nationalist Party (currently have 20/79 seats)
The SNP are using the M74 and M80 motorways to demonstrate their commitment to transport, neither of which have had a significant effect on air quality, public transport or city centre congestion but they do promise to focus on pothole maintenance which will benefit all road users, including buses and bicycles. Improved ticketing systems are also proposed for the buses.
Glasgow First (currently have 6/79 seats, rebel group of former Labour members)
Scottish Liberal Democrats (currently have 6/79 seats)
I can only assume that the Lib-dems are not aware of transport issues given their complete omission of transport from their manifesto.
Scottish Green Party (currently have 5/79 seats)
The green party emphasise walking, wheelchair and cycling options as part of an integrated transport system, including cycle park and ride schemes. Smart card ticketing and upgrading buses to electrical/fuel cell buses.
Scottish Conservative and Unionist (currently have 1/79 seats)
The conservatives have never been big on public transport and that trend continues in their manifesto which mentions support for cycling (a bike stand?) and increasing park and ride schemes. While park and ride can keep cars out of the city centre, it still requires use of a car rather than door-door public transport.
Scottish Socialist Party (No seats in current council)
The SSP definitely have the best proposal for public transport ticketing: make it all free!
UK Independence Party (No seats in current council)
UKIP will stop "over-zealous" parking enforcement and speed cameras and probably try to prevent over-zealous bus lane enforcement too, if they had thought about it. But they will protect rural bus services.
Labour, the SNP and the Tories also support the multi-million pound Clyde fastlink - Glasgow's answer to Edinburgh's trams - more on this in a future post. Allowing people to get about the city without being asphyxiated does not really feature highly in any of the manifestos. A greater emphasis is put on schools, for example, while ignoring the fact that our children are being poisoned going to and from school and possibly during the day if there is poor air quality all around.