Deputy News Editor
A report from SPT claims £20m losses mean “maintaining services is simply not viable.”
Glasgow Subway could be set for closure if Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) does not get additional financial help from the Scottish Government.
The popular publicly owned transport service has seen passenger journeys drop by 97% amid the Covid-19 crisis and have seen losses up to £20m. However, despite continuing its services, they have received no financial help from Transport Scotland to address the financial gap in its losses.
Dr Martin Bartoes, the chair councilor of SPT, stated: “Not a day has gone by when the Subway hasn’t operated, and we’ve followed the government’s lead on doing so safely for staff and passengers. Responding to Covid-19 has had a profound impact on all parts of SPT, and undoubtedly will continue to do so for some time to come
“Most of our revenue comes from Subway income which is directly related to passenger numbers. The situation was highlighted to Transport Scotland as early as March 30 by which time we’d already experienced a 97% fall in passenger journeys on the Subway (in line with what commercial bus, rail and other transport operators had experienced).
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen not a penny in Covid-19 support come to SPT to help either our bus or Subway efforts.
“We’ve been left without the slightest indication from Transport Scotland or the Cabinet Secretary about when SPT might see any actual financial support which recognises the huge losses incurred as our staff have done their bit.”
The report by SPT states that “without financial support from the government to offset the lost income, maintaining services is simply not an option.”
In addition, the report states that SPT claimed its services could see a deficit ranging between £5.6m to £9m to Transport Scotland.
However, despite the losses, Dr Martin Bartos insists that “closing the subway is not an option on the table.”
Dr Bartos added: “Given the investment the Government and SPT has put into Subway modernisation, and the work that has been done to upgrade and the system, the rollout of modernisation will continue.
“The aim of the Partnership paper is to look at ways we can ensure the future for Subway and all SPT services. Transport Scotland has stepped in to fund other transport modes and is well aware of our need for support.”
Transport Scotland responded to the report, with a spokesperson stating: “The Scottish Government is providing financial support for public transport to maintain essential services
“This is intended to offset the impact that reduced demand is having on the viability of local services, to maintain services for key workers and protect the industry for the future.
“We continue to monitor travel patterns across the country as we emerge from lockdown measures and work closely with local and regional partners as we do this.
“We appreciate the important role which the subway and trams play in our two biggest cities and have undertaken detailed discussions with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Edinburgh Trams to understand the implications of Covid-19 on their operations.
“We are currently exploring what appropriate support may be available in the context of the very challenging financial situation, our published Covid-19: Framework for Decision Making and the Transport Transition Plan.”
Scotland is currently in phrase two of its lockdown exit strategy, with phrase three set to gradually be introduced from July 15.
The report by SPT can be found on their website.