Na­tion­al­is­ing buses is the only an­swer

The Oban Times - - Letters -

Sir, John Fother­ing­ham needs a re­al­ity check (‘De­lay over new buses ques­tioned’, Lochaber Times, June 8). I would sug­gest the ar­ti­cle about Stage­coach/ Citylink is more a dig at Stage­coach’s Fort Wil­liam de­pot.

The High­land Coun­cil awarded bus con­tracts to an­other op­er­a­tor with­out thought of the im­pli­ca­tions that giv­ing some ser­vices to Shiel Buses would have for cus­tomers or to the vi­a­bil­ity of Stage­coach’s op­er­a­tion within Fort Wil­liam and sur­round­ing ar­eas.

We now have two bus com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing two dif­fer­ent tick­et­ing sys­tems which have, in some cases, dou­bled pas­sen­gers’ weekly travel costs. This has oc­curred be­cause the new op­er­a­tor was al­lowed to cher­ryp­ick some ser­vices they can run – day­time ser­vices to Up­per Ach­in­tore – but hand­ing the ser­vice back to Stage­coach for the same evening ser­vice which then re­quires the pas­sen­ger to buy an­other ticket.

High­land Coun­cil’s an­swer is that it is ‘talk­ing’ to Stage­coach and Shiel to sort a prob­lem it caused in the first place, a prob­lem it states will be fixed in the fu­ture while the cus­tomer pays the price for the coun­cil’s in­com­pe­tence.

Citylink stated last year it re­ceived very few com­plaints about ser­vices out of Fort Wil­liam and has an­nounced its op­er­a­tor, Stage­coach, has or­dered new buses to be de­liv­ered to­wards the end of the year.

Drivers have a ro­bust de­fect re­port­ing sys­tem that is car­ried out be­fore the bus leaves the de­pot and can log faults that may oc­cur dur­ing the day which can then be looked at.

What does hap­pen, though, and Mr Fother­ing­ham’s is a good ex­am­ple, is that pas­sen­gers com­plain to the drivers but do not bother tak­ing it any fur­ther or write to news­pa­pers like yours.

Stage­coach Fort Wil­liam has lost a few drivers to Shiel Buses and Mr Fother­ing­ham and oth­ers won­der why the High­land Coun­cil couldn’t have given all the ser­vices to Shiel. The truth is that Shiel has cher­ryp­icked the routes it wants, the sub­sidised school ser­vices, the tax­payer-funded routes that help make the com­pany vi­able and al­low it to buy new buses. The only real way to give us a re­li­able mod­ern trans­port ser­vice is to na­tion­alise the bus in­dus­try which will spread the cost of op­er­at­ing ru­ral ser­vices throughout Scot­land. Cyril Bon­nett, Bal­lachul­ish.

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