Cash from coun­cil could put bus ser­vices back on track in three ar­eas of Gran­ite City

Evening Express (City Final) - - News - By Adele Mer­son, po­lit­i­cal re­porter

THREE com­mu­ni­ties that lack public trans­port may get coun­cil sup­ported bus ser­vices, if pro­pos­als are agreed next week.

Kingswells, Airy­hall/ Craigiebuck­ler and Dub­ford/ Den­more have been iden­ti­fied as the parts of the city where there is a gap in the public trans­port net­work.

But other ar­eas in­clud­ing the beach, Lower Dee­side and air­port have been ruled out for fi­nan­cial help from the lo­cal au­thor­ity.

Aberdeen City Coun­cil’s fi­nance com­mit­tee will be asked on Wed­nes­day to start a ten­der­ing process to pro­vide bus ser­vices in these ar­eas.

A re­port states that while the “ma­jor­ity of Aberdeen” is served through­out the day and all week to a “sat­is­fac­tory level” by com­mer­cial bus ser­vices, a “num­ber of gaps” have been iden­ti­fied.

First Bus pulled its X40 and num­ber 11 ser­vices from Kingswells on April 1, leav­ing the sub­urb with­out a bus link.

The clos­est bus ser­vice was at the park and ride – a 2.5km (1.5 mile) walk for some.

The axed ser­vices were re­placed ear­lier this year by a coun­cil-funded shut­tle bus to take res­i­dents to the park and ride and then on to Aberdeen Royal In­fir­mary, on week­days only from 6am un­til 11pm.

But the coun­cil has said a more “per­ma­nent so­lu­tion” is re­quired and the fi­nance com­mit­tee is be­ing asked to agree extending the ser­vice.

A re­port by Chris Cor­mack, the team leader of the coun­cil’s public trans­port unit, said: “The assess­ment for Kingswells demon­strates that the ex­ist­ing sup­ported ser­vices do meet the min­i­mum cri­te­ria be­tween Mon­day to Fri­day.

“But, there are in­suf­fi­cient bus ser­vices at the weekend and should sup­ported ser­vices no longer be avail­able then res­i­dents would have a sig­nif­i­cant walk to a bus ser­vice and this would sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact on res­i­dents’ abil­ity to ac­cess ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment and key ser­vices.”

Coun­cil of­fi­cers sug­gest the lo­cal au­thor­ity sup­ports a daily ser­vice op­er­at­ing ev­ery 30 min­utes at peak times; a min­i­mum hourly ser­vice off­peak and in the evenings be­tween 6am to 11pm Mon­day to Satur­day, and an hourly ser­vice on Sun­days be­tween 8am and 10pm.

Mr Cor­mack added: “It is rec­om­mended where pos­si­ble for any ser­vice to travel via the Lang Stra­cht and West­burn Road as the feed­back from the com­mu­nity has high­lighted the im­por­tance of this link.

“How­ever, when do­ing so con­sid­er­a­tion would have to be given to the avail­abil­ity of fund­ing.”

Kingswells coun­cil­lor Steve De­laney, who has been a vo­cal ad­vo­cate for re­in­stat­ing bus ser­vices in the area, said: “Things have moved for­ward with quite a bit of con­sen­sus but re­ally we should have been here be­fore the bus ser­vice stopped in April.

“I’m just con­cerned by the time it has taken to get here, be­cause the ser­vice at the mo­ment is bet­ter than noth­ing but it leaves a lot to be de­sired.

“This will go out to ten­der and look at the pos­si­bil­ity for an im­proved bus ser­vice.”

Com­mer­cial bus op­er­a­tors stopped pro­vid­ing evening ser­vices in Airy­hall/craigiebuck­ler in April 2013 and as a re­sult res­i­dents had to walk up to 2km (1.2 miles) to catch the near­est bus.

Coun­cil­lors will be asked to con­sider of­fer­ing this ser­vice in-house at Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing.

A new sup­ported Sun­day bus ser­vice is also set to be in­tro­duced in the Dub­ford/den­more area of the city.

In his re­port, Mr Cor­mack said: “Com­mer­cial bus op­er­a­tors ceased to pro­vide Sun­day ser­vices in the area in Septem­ber 2012 and as a re­sult res­i­dents are re­quired to walk up to 1.6km (1 mile) for their near­est ser­vice.

“The assess­ment for Dub­ford/ Den­more demon­strates that there is an in­suf­fi­cient level of bus ser­vice in the area on a Sun­day, re­quir­ing res­i­dents to walk a con­sid­er­able dis­tance to ac­cess a bus ser­vice.

“It is con­sid­ered that a sup­ported ser­vice is im­ple­mented be­tween 9am

ON ROAD: The link to the Kingswells park and ride could be made more reg­u­lar.

IN FAVOUR:

Cllr Steve De­laney has pushed the is­sue.

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