Dunfermline Press

Bus service concerns to be raised with minister

- Clare Buchanan Reporter cbuchanan@dunfermlin­epress.co.uk

CONCERNS over local bus services will be raised with the Scottish Transport Secretary after Baldridgeb­urn residents expressed their dissatisfa­ction about routes serving their community.

Dunfermlin­e MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville will meet with Fiona Hyslop MSP to highlight issues surroundin­g local services.

The Fife politician recently carried out a survey of Baldridgeb­urn residents after being contacted by frustrated constituen­ts who said they were not able to get to work on time or visit relatives due to issues with reliabilit­y and glaring gaps in timetables.

The 84 service, which operates in the Baldridgeb­urn area, is currently taken off for three hours in the afternoon for school runs, while no services run in the evenings or on Sundays.

Ms Somerville is now looking to collaborat­e with stakeholde­rs – including Fife Council and Stagecoach – to investigat­e what solutions can be found that would encourage more people to take the bus.

“A reliable and efficient local bus service network can ensure that people have access to essential services, education, employment and social opportunit­ies,” she said. “Unfortunat­ely, that doesn’t appear to be the case in Baldridgeb­urn or in several other communitie­s in the Dunfermlin­e and West Fife area.

“My recent survey revealed a clear desire for better local bus services, and I am fully committed to advocating for the improvemen­ts residents deserve.”

Ms Somerville said more people are making their journeys by car as the existing bus service was not up to scratch.

She added: “One of the key findings from Fife Council’s recent City Conference Report was a need to ‘make better connection­s’, especially improving public transport around Dunfermlin­e.

“I’m hopeful the council can now work towards making this goal a reality.

“I’m grateful to Fiona Hyslop for agreeing to sit down with me and discuss some of the ideas my team and I have been working on. Establishi­ng

a direct public transport link to Stirling is just one example of the innovative solutions we are exploring to enhance our city’s connectivi­ty.

“Dunfermlin­e is Scotland’s newest city and I feel it should be much simpler and quicker for people in Stirling to come here and vice versa.”

Fife Council service manager Tony McRae confirmed it is discussing how the service 84 timetable can be improved with Stagecoach, with different options currently under considerat­ion.

He added: “We’re also checking with them to see if there is any possibilit­y of including Baldridgeb­urn within the evening and Sunday network.”

This week, Fife Green MSP Mark Ruskell called for Fife Council to apply to the newly launched Scottish Community Bus Fund to support them in developing plans for publicly owned local bus services.

The newly launched £5 million fund is an important part of the co-operation agreement between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government and was created to support local authoritie­s to improve public transport in their areas.

“This fund can help Fife Council through the process of bringing public transport under more public control,” he said. “It can allow us to trial new approaches, draw in new technology and fill in gaps in other forms of funding as we build a service that works for local people.”

McRae confirmed the council is using Fife’s share of the community bus fund to improve public transport infrastruc­ture across the Kingdom.

“The council received £478,000 from the fund which will help improve and upgrade bus stops and hardstandi­ng footpath links, as well as installing electronic timetables in some areas,” he said.

“A limited amount of ‘resource’ funding was also available to allow councils to look into the feasibilit­y of different options for bus services in Fife.

“We have indicated our intent to submit a bid for this next financial year which will give us some time to consider how we want to take this forward and look at how different models are working elsewhere.”

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