Glasgow: Transport

Posted on 2 September 2004 in Transport, Travel and Holidays (No comments)

To be honest, we didn't go far out of the city centre bar the bus trip to and from the airport (quick quick though) but there are a hell of a lot of buses in Glasgow - most operated by First, and including some extremely old and dubious buses in a very dark red livery.

Being sad like that, I did notice that the company address did vary between buses with buses being either run by First Glasgow (No. 1) Ltd or First Glasgow (No. 2) Ltd. Both based at the same address...

Quite why the split remains, who knows, and who cares. But on my return I did find out that First Glasgow (No. 1) was the former Strathclyde Buses (the former PTE operator) whist No. 2 was "Kelvin Central" - a privatised chunk of the Scottish Bus Group which was later bought by Strathclyde Buses before they sold out to First.

First also operated a 'classic bus' tourist service operating in a livery based on that used by the old Glasgow Corporation - orange, green and cream. Their idea of 'classic' seemed to consist of some battered Leyland Atlanteans from the 1970s and 1980s and two London Routemasters. Very classic...

Scotland is Stagecoach home territory although they were rare in Glasgwo - just a smattering of Magic Buses and one (for some reason) bus that was in a green and cream livery. There were the odd indies and Arriva buses around as well but nothing too exciting.

The Subway

The Subway is far more interesting - it's the third oldest underground system in the world - behind only London and Budapest.

It may be old but it doesn't look it. A 'modernisation' in the late 1970s means it looks... well very 1970s. Lots of browns, oranges and creams. The whole thing looks pretty awful colour wise, and very murkey.

To add to the colour mix, most trains are painted bright orange, hence the 'clockwork orange' nickname. Thankfully someone has seen some sense and they're repainting them in a brown and cream. Not much of an improvement really but at least they're trying.

The Lines

The Subway claims to have two lines. In reality they are the same line - one goes anticlockwise, the other clockwise. Both serve the same stations. It's also 3 carriages long and not as tall as the London system - the whole thing is very low and there's not even any room for handles - hand grabs are actually embedded next to lights.

It is pretty reliable and at £1.70 for offpeak unlimited travel, good value. However its notable that it doesn't always serve 'popular' destinations. For example, the main shopping street isn't served very well, nor is Glasgow Central rail station. Both have stations nearby, but not overly close.

The Name

One of the more interesting problems with the Glasgow Subway is naming. Whilst they seem to call it the SPT Subway everywhere, there are numerous 'Underground' references for no apparent reason. Indeed one station had 'To Underground' with a giant U logo next to it - I never saw that U ever again in the whole of my travels. Given the stations were all redeveloped at the same time, it seems rather bizarre.

There's also no consistency on logo use - the trains seem to have a variety of different logos on them, and on tourist maps its pot luck as to what they use. Most I saw used a circle with S in it.

To add to the confusion, a number of trains had fire extinguishers with the London Underground roundel on them!

Other Subway Stuff

If you want to see 1980s ticket machines and ticket barriers at their best, the Subway is also the place to go - they do look like they are out of the ark - like those nice boxy robots you used to see in old science fiction films!

And one final thought - someone has done a very good job at putting stations down murky dark alleys... Better take a torch. Still it was clean and tidy - no graffiti on those brown train interiors...

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