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Glasgow is a city of connectivity contradictions and contrasts. It has the UK’s best suburban rail network outside London, where passenger numbers have grown exponentially over the last decade, creating a crisis of growth as even strong levels of national investment struggle to keep pace with relentlessly rising demand.
On the other hand, its bus network, responsible for carrying a far greater number of passengers, has experienced the steepest decline of any UK city over that same decade, creating a crisis to decline, isolating communities from the city’s economic, social and cultural core.
Glasgow has also seen strong investment in its strategic road network, with the recent completion of the M74 and infrastructure improvements on the M8, M73 & M74. Yet it has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in Britain, and these contrasts, coupled with relatively weak traffic restraint, create the potential for a rapid rise in car use and congestion.
These connectivity contrasts are reflected in, and contribute to, an economically divided city, where, in broad terms, two thirds of the population are benefiting from and contributing to growth and a third are simply being left behind. If you live near a train station or own a car you are far more likely to be connected – and contributing to – Glasgow’s increasingly strong economy, which is being driven by highly-skilled, productive workers.
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Iain has been researching the transport sector for 20 years, working with governments and public agencies in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, The Netherlands and Sweden. He is currently Non-Executive Director of the ScotRail Operating Board.
Damien is Scottish Affairs and Media Manager for Virgin Trains. Prior to joining Virgin Trains in 2013, he worked as a journalist at The Herald for 10 years, latterly as Transport Correspondent. Damien is on the board of sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland and steering committee of the Release Scotland partnership.