Bus company publishes new timetable
SHIEL Buses has published a new timetable after securing 12 Highland Council public transport contracts.
The Fort William bus company will continue its current services and has taken over six contracts previously held by Stagecoach North of Scotland.
The new timetable will take effect from Monday April 24.
Shiel Buses will run two coaches on the Fort William to Inverness route, with some services going to and from Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.
The company has also reinstated a morning service from Acharacle on a Thursday. This route was previously run by the council but was stopped following council money-saving cuts.
Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson said it was fantastic to see a local company compete with a national one and win so many of the Highland Council contracts.
But concerns about cross-town bus services are growing following news the two contracted operators running the service will not recognise each other’s tickets.
The council has awarded the service between Fort William and Corpach to different operators. Shiel Buses will run the service during the day and Stagecoach at night. People who live in Fort William and work in Corpach and buy a weekly pass had questioned how this will affect them as they would be using one operator to get to work and another to get home.
At a meeting of the Lochaber bus users group on Tuesday March 21, Shiel buses and Stagecoach said the services will not be integrated, meaning joint tickets will not be available and the companies will not recognise each other’s tickets. The news means people will have to buy two separate bus tickets.
A Stagecoach representative said: ‘ We have raised a commercial joint ticket with the Highland Council, but we need the council to facilitate that discussion.’
Legally, bus operators cannot discuss ticket prices and fares with each other.
Earlier this month, Shiel Buses applied for planning permission to turn land at Glen Nevis Business Park into a bus parking area. The company currently occupies unit four at the business park with plans to develop 19 vehicle parking spaces on unit five, which lies within the Inventoried Battlefield of Inverlochy.
The full Shiel timetable can be found at http:// www.shielbuses.co.uk.
The Lochaber Times contacted Shiel buses but it did not respond before the paper went to press.