YOU wait all year for a Glasgow city centre transport change, then two come along more or less at once.

I haven’t had the chance to take my newly compliant car into town since the low emission zone (LEZ) came into force, but with the news that First Bus is scrapping every one of its Glasgow night bus services, I’m certainly glad I bought it.

The alternative was to put my faithful old motor through one more MOT and follow the mechanic’s advice to simply turn up the radio whenever it started making one of its disconcerting rattling noises. I wouldn’t have been able to drive into the city without incurring a fine, but that wasn’t a big problem since my home is well-served by public transport.

Well, it was. Perversely, my mum’s home in Edinburgh is now more accessible by bus in the wee hours from Glasgow city centre than my flat just south of the Clyde is. What a ludicrous state of affairs.

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First Glasgow might argue that I am part of the problem. I’ve taken only a few night buses since the pandemic, whereas in previous years I was a regular user.

The services have been up and running again for a year, but the operator says passenger numbers would have to “treble overnight” for them to be sustainable.

First Glasgow says it has used a wide variety of efforts to increase numbers, including offering free tickets last December, but that ultimately these have failed to make sufficient difference.

It’s surely not entirely surprising that people weren’t crowding on to night buses in the run-up to last Christmas – of those who were undeterred by the risk of catching Covid right before visiting their granny, many will have been unable to afford their usual levels of Christmas socialising due to their enormous energy bills.

The past 12 months were hardly a fair representation of public attitudes for going out, or for using public transport as opposed to private vehicles to get there and back.

Yes, habits changed due to the pandemic and they have again due to the cost of living crisis, but are we now just meant to accept that things have changed for the worse, forever? That city-centre drinking is now only for those who can afford a taxi home?

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First Glasgow reportedly had meetings with stakeholders in an attempt to increase the promotion of its night services, but those with the biggest stake are the people who live and work in the city, who didn’t get so much as a “use it or lose it” warning. Instead, we’re being told we didn’t use it again quickly enough in sufficient numbers, so with barely any warning it will be gone.

A vicious cycle will be created, where alternative modes of transport will have to be found and then it will be argued there is no longer any demand at all for night buses. Those on low incomes can just stay at home, leave the pub early, find different jobs or different shifts.,

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“We really wanted to give these services every chance to succeed, which is why we have absorbed the operating losses for the last 12 months,” Graeme Macfarlan, the company’s commercial director, said, as if his employer deserves some sort of medal. Are we supposed to feel grateful for this valiant effort, followed by a mere three weeks’ notice that the services are ceasing?

It is surely a given that any operator should use profits from day services to fund those at night, when risks to potential passengers are the highest and alternative transport options the most limited.

In February, in the run-up to the introduction of the LEZ, I wrote about the need to consider the safety implications of transport policies, especially for people who may find themselves out at night alone and impaired.

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It seemed no consideration had been given to the fact that young people at times need to be picked up by parents driving cars in the wee hours. The decision to have the LEZ operate 24/7 made it straightforward to understand and comply with, but at the expense of taking into account the need for such late-night rescue missions.

Would those weighing up the pros and cons and safety implications of the LEZ have made different decisions if they knew that night buses would vanish less than two months after the enforcement phase began?

The withdrawal of night bus services creates further safety issues, especially for anyone who doesn’t have a charged, functioning mobile phone on them with which to call a taxi or summon one using an app. Hailing a black cab is an option for those who can afford it, but doing so is not without risk, particularly for lone women passengers.

For every horror story told by regular users of night buses there are several more anecdotes about kindness, camaraderie and tipsy tomfoolery. The singing might be out of tune, the patter cringeworthy and the air filled with Buckfast breath, but that’s public transport for you. Fellow bus passengers can help with change for the fare, instructions about where to get off, even consolation about how some Lothario or other is not worth tears.

First Glasgow must reconsider this short-sighted move, and give the city centre a fighting chance to recover.