Transport strategy raises more questions than it answers, claims MSP

Transport strategy raises more questions than it answers, claims MSP
One of the major projects outlined in the blueprint is a metro scheme covering Glasgow and surrounding areas.

A flagship transport strategy published by the Scottish Government “raises more questions than it answers”, an MSP has said.

The second strategic transports projects review (STPR2) outlined on Thursday makes 45 recommendations to be actioned over the next two decades, some of which include major overhauls in the country’s transport infrastructure, but it does not give timescales or funding commitments.

Perhaps the most ambitious project, the Clyde Metro, was announced in 2019, but the more than 40-page report and its 190-page accompanying technical report provide no further details on the status of the initiative than were previously available.

The metro system would provide links by bus, rail or tram across the Glasgow city region, stretching around 15km from the city centre.

The report recommends that “Transport Scotland continues to work with Glasgow City Council Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and other regional partners on developing the business cases and delivery plan for Clyde Metro”.

Other such mass transit projects in Edinburgh and the south east of Scotland and in Aberdeen are also proposed.

Speaking in Holyrood, Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said: “This is a blueprint which will transform the way in which transport infrastructure is delivered in Scotland.”

But Conservative MSP Graham Simpson said the documents “raise more questions than they provide answers”.

He added: “We can see the direction of travel, we just don’t know how to get there.”

In response to Labour MSP Pauline McNeill’s question on the timescale for the proposed Glasgow metro, Mr Matheson said: “I can’t give you a specific timescale other than within the STPR2 period and the reason for that is because a detailed work plan has to be taken forward in developing the whole proposal.

Michael Matheson said the plan will ‘transform the way in which transport infrastructure is delivered in Scotland’ (PA)

“But what I can absolutely assure the member is that I believe something like the Clyde Metro could be absolutely transformational for communities in Glasgow and the wider Clyde area, if we get it right.

“And we are absolutely determined to drive that forward.”

The planned smart ticketing system to be deployed across all public transport in Scotland also moves no further forward as a result of the review, although when asked Mr Matheson said there are issues in merging the ticketing systems of all transport providers across the country.

In response to a question from Labour MSP Colin Smyth, Mr Matheson said of the project: “One of the real challenges in taking forward a smart ticketing system across the whole of Scotland is the number of operators of different scale we have.

“We have alone over 200 bus operators, all using different ticketing systems for different buses.

“One of the real challenges is aligning all that work alongside the shift that the public have in using tap and go technology and how we align all that to ensure that we have an integrated system all across the country.”