De­lay over new buses ques­tioned

The Oban Times - - Lochaber Times & Oban Times -

SCOT­TISH Ci­tylink is in­vest­ing £1.2 mil­lion in new buses for the Fort William to In­ver­ness route.

But Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Ach­nacarry com­mu­nity coun­cil chair­man John Fother­ing­ham has ques­tioned why pas­sen­gers need to wait un­til Novem­ber to see an im­prove­ment in ser­vices.

The coach op­er­a­tor is in­tro­duc­ing four new state- of-the-art coaches to the 919 route from Novem­ber, re­plac­ing the cur­rent 10-year- old ve­hi­cles. The new coaches fea­ture USB points, WiFi, toi­let, air con­di­tion­ing and re­clin­ing seats.

Mr Fother­ing­ham wrote to op­er­a­tions di­rec­tor Peter Knight claim­ing the cur­rent coaches ‘still give the trav­el­ling pub­lic cause for con­cern’.

He said: ‘On May 31, the 8.55am ser­vice from Fort William ar­rived at Spean Bridge late be­cause there were se­ri­ous is­sues with the door. Not an un­com­mon fault which has been re­ported many, many times. The driver did his best, but ev­ery stop meant two or three min­utes man­han­dling the door to close. The up­shot was it ar­rived in In­ver­ness 35 min­utes late at 11.30am.’

Mr Fother­ing­ham ques­tioned why this was al­lowed to hap­pen as both Stage­coach North of Scot­land and Ci­tylink claim no coach leaves the de­pots with­out pass­ing a 30-point re­li­a­bil­ity in­spec­tion.

Re­spond­ing, Mr Knight said he was ‘con­cerned’ to hear of this in­ci­dent: ‘I have asked Stage­coach North Scot­land for an ex­pla­na­tion as to what the spe­cific is­sues were and what has been done to rec­tify those is­sues. This in­con­ve­niences pas­sen­gers.’ Mr Fother­ing­ham told the Lochaber

Times the ‘ whole thing is ap­palling’. He said: ‘ Why do we need to wait un­til Novem­ber to get re­li­able buses? We have seen it all be­fore. They don’t lis­ten, have lit­tle re­gard for the trav­el­ling pub­lic, change the timeta­bles with­out con­sul­ta­tion and, de­spite a cat­a­logue of com­plaints, Ci­tylink con­tin­ues to use Stage­coach North of Scot­land as the pre­ferred main op­er­a­tor. Af­ter three years of knock­ing our head against a brick wall, Spean Bridge, Roy Bridge and Ach­nacarry Com­mu­nity Coun­cil is with­draw­ing its rep­re­sen­ta­tion from the Trans­port Fo­rum and Bus Users Group.’

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