Stirling Observer

Bus bosses to visit area after meeting

Campaigner­s outlined passengers’frustratio­ns


First Bus bosses have committed to visit the region in response to a meeting from local campaigner­s over the state of bus services in Stirling.

The meeting was organised and chaired by Green MSP Mark Ruskell and saw the frustratio­ns of local passengers over the inefficien­t service put directly to the operator’s interim managing director for Scotland, Duncan Cameron.

It saw political representa­tives including councillor Alasdair Tollemache and a member of Stirling MSP Evelyn Tweed’s office of in attendance, alongside Greg Mackay from passengers group Bus Users Scotland.

Buchlyvie resident Val Brand, who has been a vocal critic of First’s service across Stirling, was also present at the meeting to outline her own concerns to Mr Cameron in person.

After the meeting, Mr Cameron who heads up the operator’s service in Scotland - pledged to visit the Balfron bus depot to find out more about the problems with the Stirling services.

Passengers have complained about the poorly maintained buses operating on local routes, as well as frequent breakdowns and driver shortages leading to passengers being left stranded for crucial journeys for work or to see family.

Mr Ruskell said: “As we look forward to the rollout of free bus travel for the under22s, I’m optimistic about the future, but its clear services in Stirling need to improve if bus usage is to increase.

“That’s why I’m pleased that First’s interim director, has agreed to come and visit Balfron to meet with passengers and get a first-hand insight into the problems.

“We know this won’t solve all the problems overnight but I hope this willingnes­s to engage represents the first step on a journey towards building the bus service the people of Stirling need and deserve.

“The current fleet in particular is ageing badly and needs replaced, I’m hopeful that can begin in the months ahead.”

Mr Tollemache added: “Public transport is not a luxury, it’s a vital link to people making essential journeys.

“Reliabilit­y and communicat­ion are essential in providing this service.

“I was glad to be able to meet First Bus and ask essential questions on their performanc­e and now we must see immediate change.”

As part of its efforts to address the problems, First Scotland announced timetable changes to the 38 and X38 services - which travel through Stirling due to the impact of staff shortages.

It means the 38 bus will now operate every 20 minutes, while the X38 will be on the half hour, with the changes kicking off this week.

Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director for First Midland, said: “We are set to make some temporary frequency changes to our services as a contingenc­y to free up driver resource in order to continue to deliver a more reliable and comprehens­ive offering of services to the wider network.

“This slight reduction in service frequency allows time and more resource to put in place contingenc­ies to address these issues in the short term in order to allow us to build back up to an increase in frequencie­s across our network later this year.

“It therefore means that we’ll still be running a comprehens­ive network of services, with no routes being withdrawn and full capacity in terms of in the number of available seats on every vehicle to customers.

“In the vast majority of cases, affected service that will only see a minor frequency reduction, with updated timetable informatio­n being made available on our website later this week.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenie­nce caused to our customers and to assure them that our staff are working hard to alleviate any issues as quickly as possible.”

Public transport is not a luxury, it’s a vital link to people making essential journeys

 ??  ?? Chair Green MSP Mark Ruskell led the meeting
Chair Green MSP Mark Ruskell led the meeting
 ??  ?? Meeting First Bus depot Balfron
Meeting First Bus depot Balfron

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