Council is looking to get on the buses

Motherwell councillor Paul Kelly wants to see a better public transport network in North Lanarkshire.
Motherwell councillor Paul Kelly wants to see a better public transport network in North Lanarkshire.

Councillors are keen to set up a publicly-owned bus network in North Lanarkshire amid fears that people without cars are being cut off.

They have instructed officials to look at the successful public transport system in Edinburgh and see if such a scheme could work here.

The proposal won support from all sides at a full council meeting as there is concern at the current level of services, particularly for small villages and less accessible areas.

A motion put forward by Motherwell councillor Paul Kelly, the depute council leader, and Kilsyth member Heather McVey, the ruling Labour group’s business manager, called on the authority to “explore options for a council or publicly-owned transport network to serve our area”.

It went on: “It is essential that public transport and transport connectivity are improved for all of our citizens to enable them to fulfil their potential in education, employment and wellbeing.”

City of Edinburgh Council is the major shareholder in Lothian Buses wich operates more than 70 services in the capital. Due to heavy investment, its fleet of 721 buses is one of the youngest in the country.

Councillor Kelly said: “Lothian Buses has been a success so we should at least look at the idea. Other countries such as Germany and Holland have publicly-owned transport networks and we need to look at what they are doing.

“Bus companies here are driven by profit and, understandably, won’t put on services which don’t make money.

“However, services should be more about people who use the buses and can find themselves cut off when routes are dropped or changed. If you don’t have a car, particularly at night, you’re stuck without transport.

“There is the issue of social isolation and people can miss out on jobs which involve different shifts if they are relying on buses.

“We, like all councils, are struggling financially, but we must respond to matters of serious public concern and do what we can to make sure buses stay on the road.”