Buses modified after stream of complaints over disabled access
Buses that drew criticism from passengers are being modified to address access problems.
Stagecoach launched its new-look Buchan Xpress vehicles across Aberdeenshire two years ago as part of a £5.5million scheme to improve links between north-east towns and Aberdeen.
But within days of them taking to the roads, concerns began pouring in that elderly and disabled passengers were having difficulty getting on and off. That prompted a rethink by the firm, which is now refitting the vehicles.
The first of the 17 buses has now returned to the roads.
A change to the staircase has been made to make boarding easier for those with mobility restrictions, and additional handrails have been installed.
All of the vehicles are expected to be road-ready by autumn.
Mark Whitelocks, managing director for Stagecoach North Scotland, said: “We have already received positive feedback from customers regarding the modifications. There is now a plan in place to make these improvements to the entire fleet of Buchan Xpress coaches in the coming months.”
Peterhead MP Eilidh Whiteford had branded the buses “unfit” last year.
Last night, she said the refits were a “step forward” in remedying the situation for commuters. “I am glad Stagecoach has listened to feedback from passengers, and have made real efforts to address the challenges faced by less agile and disabled passengers,” she added.
“I also welcome the acknowledgement that there is a need in the longer term to improve the accessibility of rural bus services more widely, recognising that many passengers have some degree of mobility impairment, disability, or, in the case of those travelling with babies and toddlers, need help to get on and off the bus safely.”
“I am glad Stagecoach has listened to feedback”
GOOD STEPS: Mark Whitelocks shows the new improved access on the buses