A campaign to safeguard the future of the Glasgow Subway has been launched by the Scottish Greens as emergency funding for the service comes to an end.
The underground network has shared a £9 million funding package, announced by the Scottish Government in July, with Edinburgh’s trams.
It was due to last until the end of September, and expires on Wednesday.
Passenger numbers on the “clockwork orange” dropped substantially during lockdown, leading to a shortage in ticket revenue.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), who run the network, forecasts a deficit of between £12m and £20m, with passenger numbers falling by around 97%.
Since the easing of lockdown, only a quarter of the usual number of passengers have resumed using the service.
The Greens launched a petition, calling on Transport Secretary Michael Matheson to provide the Subway with funding to avoid cuts to services.
✍️ Sign our petition: https://t.co/zXNogfwEI8
— Glasgow Green Party (@glasgowgreens) September 30, 2020
Co-leader and Glasgow MSP Patrick Harvie said: “The fact that Glasgow’s iconic and vital Subway faces an uncertain future is a serious dereliction of duty by the Transport Secretary Michael Matheson.
“The ‘clockwork orange’ is such an important part of life in Glasgow, where over half of residents don’t own a car. Public transport needs to be the priority, not an afterthought.
“Cutting services at any time would be wrong, but forcing more people onto fewer trains in the middle of a pandemic would also be unacceptable on public health grounds.
“We’ve seen support for private train operators extended until January. Instead of only bailing out the private sector, it’s time for the Scottish Government to value the public sector in order to build a fairer and greener recovery.”
The news comes as emergency measures to support Scotrail and the Caledonian Sleeper were announced earlier this month in the form of emergency measures agreements, which will last until January.
Mr Harvie added: “We’ve seen support for private train operators extended until January.
“Instead of only bailing out the private sector, it’s time for the Scottish Government to value the public sector in order to build a fairer and greener recovery.”
Assistant chief executive of SPT – the body which runs the subway network – Valerie Davidson said that no extra funding would result in cuts to other services.
She said: “SPT provided and continues to do so, key transport links during the pandemic when other operators were reducing services.
“It was reported to our partnership meeting on September 18 that discussions continued with Transport Scotland to secure financial assistance in line with other transport operators.
“At the time of writing, no formal response to this request has been received and without additional financial support, it will be necessary to reduce other expenditure, including tendered bus services costs, to lessen the anticipated deficit arising from the reduction in patronage levels and income.
“The SPT Chair, councillor Dr Martin Bartos, at the request of all partnership members, is raising this directly with the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson.”
Opened in 1896, the Glasgow Subway is the third oldest underground metro system in the world.
It is currently undergoing modernisation work ahead of the introduction of new trains, the first of which arrived in Glasgow for training and testing last year.
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