Transport in and around Glasgow
The wealth generated by the city of Glasgow and its importance to the economy of both Scotland and Britain has ensured that as new transport systems developed the city was sure to benefit from being linked with them. From the development of the port through to the motorway network that runs through the city; transport links to, from and around Glasgow are excellent.
Getting to and from Glasgow:
Glasgow is pretty well the epicentre of the motorway network in Scotland. There are motorways heading to all the four main points of the compass out of the city, the most significant of these are the M8 and M74. The M(A)8 route is the quickest way to get to Edinburgh by road, taking you from the very centre of Glasgow to the western outskirts of Edinburgh. The 75km (46 miles) journey takes typically just under an hour, city centre to city centre. The M74 heads south out of the Glasgow towards the English border enabling you to join the M6/M1 route to London, via Birmingham, at Carlisle. This 650km (405 miles) journey can be completed in a little over seven hours. However, allowing at least eight hours for it would be sensible and, despite having to pay, using the M6 Toll Road will save you time. I’d certainly recommend consulting the Traffic Scotland and UK Highways Agency websites before setting off, to find out what road works are likely to cause delays.
Long distance coaches use the Buchanan Street Bus Station, which is to the north east of the city centre. Scottish CityLink operate many coach services in Scotland. Their service between Glasgow and Edinburgh can take less than 11/4 hours and costs less than £6.00 for a single ticket. To travel to or from London by coach the National Express services are very popular. Their fastest services are the ‘red eye’ ones, which take about 81/4 hours and cost from £19 for a single ticket.
Glasgow has two main railway stations; Central Station which serves southern Scotland and routes to England and Wales and Queen Street for services to the north and east of Scotland. First ScotRail operates train services inside Scotland whilst Arriva CrossCountry Trains currently runs the services to and from London. Their fastest journey time for this service is under 4 hours 30 minutes and can cost less than £30 if booked in advance.
To the west of the city near Paisley is Glasgow International Airport. Whilst the airport does operate flights to North and Central America as well as northern parts of Africa, it is really more concerned with domestic and European flights. Whilst you could fly to London for under £70 and in under 1 hour, unfortunately you’d land at Stansted. To fly to London City airport costs a minimum and staggering £160 one way and takes about 11/2 hours. By comparison the express train services are excellent value, especially considering the time wasted in airports. There is also the Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, which is actually about 50km (30 miles) south west of Glasgow at Prestwick. This international airport services domestic and European services, mainly for charter and budget operators.
Travel in and around Glasgow:
Whilst Glasgow can be easy to travel through, travelling in it by car can be very confusing. There is quite a complex system of one-way roads and sudden dead-ends, that drivers new to the city need to be very wary of. Although the city is split by the river Clyde its four city centre bridges and the Clyde Road Tunnel keep the traffic flowing fairly well between the north and south banks of the river. There is a ferry service, taking foot passengers, still operating over the river between Blythswood and Yorker.
As well as having an excellent local public bus service operated by the First Group Travel, Glasgow has its own underground railway. Opened in 1896 it is the third oldest in the world and follows a circular route with 15 stations, for about 10km (7 miles), under the streets of the city centre. Linking with the underground system is an excellent suburban train service for commuters, shoppers and visitors to the city. Operated by First Scot Rail it uses 59 train stations to provide a comprehensive service, second only to that found in London. Unfortunately, at present, the city’s two main stations - Central & Queen Street - are not linked by a rail service.
Glasgow is keen to encourage its citizens in being more physically active and ‘green’ minded. With 110km already available for use, it is developing a cycle network which will eventually have in total 375km (240 miles) of dedicated cycle routes.
The city has somewhat of a treat available if you want to get from the city centre to the Braehead shopping centre and retail park. You can take the Pride o’ the Clyde - a waterbus - which ‘sails’ six times a day. Whilst a one way ticket might seem expensive at £3 for a 30 minute journey, you do gain a new perspective of the city.
Hackney cab taxis you can hail are in plentiful supply in this busy metropolis, as are private hire taxis that you can pre-book.