A PILOT scheme in a Scottish city which could see 1000 people given free access to public transport for nine weeks has yet to receive funding.

Glasgow City Council procured support to develop the pilot, which would assess whether a wider, more permanent roll-out should be considered.

It is believed providing free public transport could help the city reduce inequality and achieve its net-zero carbon ambitions.

It comes after the Energy Secretary Mairi McAllan said a new Transport for London-style integrated ticket system for public transport would be explored as part of a new strategy to reduce car journeys by 20%, as she confirmed reports that the Government was ditching a key climate target.

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She told MSPs the Government was scrapping its ambition to reduce carbon emissions by 75% before the end of the decade.

A study found providing everyone in Glasgow between the ages of 22 and 59 with free public transport for nine weeks would “cost approximately £95.7 million excluding back office and admin costs”.

Providing free public transport to delegates during the COP26 climate conference “cost just over £1 million for 20 days”.

The National: Cop26 – Glasgow

The preferred option for taking forward a pilot would be to use 1000 people, between 22 and 59, which would cost around £250,000. It has been recommended due to uncertainty around funding for a larger pilot and the “more manageable” sample size.

The pilot would involve working in partnership “with SPT [Strathclyde Partnership for Transport] and the SPT Zonecard forum”, with 1000 Zonecard smartcards purchased by the council and distributed to participants.

A report on the study suggested: “The Zonecards will be preloaded with an initial four weeks’ worth of travel, providing unlimited access to all modes of public transport in Glasgow and more specifically contained within zones 1 and 2. 

“Subject to completion of a travel survey after the initial four-week period, pilot participants will be provided with a further four weeks’ worth of travel, activated remotely by SPT. 

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“Upon completion of a further survey after this second four-week period, pilot participants will be rewarded with a final one week worth of free travel.”

Usage data from the pilot, and the responses to the travel surveys, would be used to evaluate the scheme and “feed into wider decision-making on the future of public transport within Glasgow.”

Plans for a pilot are included in the city’s transport strategy, which states it would be evaluated to “inform thinking on the benefits and costs of free public transport”.

However, while councillors allocated funding to support the “development of the scope of a pilot, ”officials have reported there is “currently no funding allocated for delivery of the pilot”.

The study, carried out by Stantec, looked at similar schemes in Scotland and further afield as well as the need for free public transport and options for the delivery.

It stated: “The intention of the pilot is to provide a mechanism through which benefits and costs of free public transport can be captured and assessed, to inform future decision making and policy setting for potential wider roll-out of the scheme across the city on a more permanent basis. 

“It should be noted, however, that this report focuses on the design of a potential pilot only, and the subsequent delivery of any pilot of free public transport would be subject to Glasgow City Council securing appropriate funding. “

The age range was set at 22 to 59 to “exclude populations already in receipt of free bus travel.”