Options that seek to make transport in Scotland more sustainable and support people to make better, more informed choices on how they travel have been set out in the Scottish Government's blueprint for future transport investment, with mass transit plans for the Glasgow City Region badged as Clyde Metro, one of the stand-out recommendations.
The second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) outlines transport investment priorities for the next two decades, with yesterday's publication making 45 recommendations. When implemented, these changes and measures will play a key role in tackling climate change, reducing inequalities and improving health and wellbeing.
Clyde Metro represents a multi-billion investment which, when complete, could better connect over 1.5 million people to employment, education, and health services in and around the Glasgow City Region. It would target areas where connections are currently poor, including places where there is deprivation. The system would help to deliver environmental benefits and improve public transport journey times and journey time reliability, making sustainable travel options more attractive.
Its inclusion as an investment priority follows on from a previous recommendation by the Connectivity Commission that work should be taken forward to develop a Metro proposal. Subsequently, the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet agreed to pause the City Deal funded Airport Access Project to develop a Feasibility Study on a wider regional Metro opportunity. The Study was mobilised in 2020, and a multi-disciplinary team established by the council on behalf of the City Region. This strategic appraisal set out to tie-in with local, regional, and national work on transport planning, with work subsequently boosted by the inclusion of a Metro concept as part of STPR2 Phase 1. This development enabled the Metro Feasibility Study to become fully aligned and able to support Phase 2 of STPR2 with additional, complementary outputs.
Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal Cabinet said: "Today's announcement marks a major step forward in our commitment to creating a modern, sustainable, integrated public transport system for the city of Glasgow and its surrounding metropolitan region. Clyde Metro's inclusion in the STPR2 report is a huge vote of confidence in the work done to date by Transport Scotland and the City Council in advancing the concept and the compelling case for it.
"Metro will be transformational - reducing social and economic inequalities, delivering on economic growth, better connecting outlying and poorly served communities and incentivising large-scale modal shift from private car to public transport.
"Over the past several decades, modern rapid transit systems like Metro are what Glasgow's comparator cities across the globe have been busy constructing. We cannot continue to be left behind. More than arguably any other single intervention, Clyde Metro can help deliver a vibrant, prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable city region, a transport system fit for our international standing and ambitions."
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson said: "The investment decisions we make now have never been more important. A green recovery from COVID-19 will set us on a path to delivering a fair and just transition to Net Zero. The pandemic has led to fundamental shifts in travel behaviours, and we want to ensure that people continue to make sustainable travel choices, that they return to public transport and our economic recovery does not overly rely on road-based travel.
"The STPR2 recommendations support the measures set out last week in our route map to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030 and represent a major piece of work by this Government to make Scotland - all of Scotland - more sustainable.
"This review represents a repositioning of our transport investment priorities - the focus is firmly on how transport can help us protect our climate and improve lives. It takes a balanced and fair approach to all modes of transport, and all areas of Scotland.
"The recommendations set out in STPR2 will help deliver the four priorities of our National Transport Strategy - reducing inequalities; taking climate action; helping deliver inclusive economic growth; and improving our health and wellbeing. They'll now go out for consultation and I urge individuals, community groups, businesses and public and third sector organisations to share their views with us so that together we can shape a transport system fit for a healthy, fair and green future."
The final recommendations are expected to be confirmed later this year. Meantime, STPR2 recommends that Transport Scotland continues to work with the council, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and other regional partners on developing the business cases and delivery plan for Clyde Metro.