Hospital bus is axed by Scottish Borders Council

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Townsfolk have been left stranded this week after the bus service to the Borders General Hospital was axed without warning.

And one local official is demanding that Scottish Borders Council (SBC) reconsiders its shock decision.

The number 71 service was launched in a local authority-owned small bus last year in a bid to gauge whether such a provision would be viable, and with around 30 people using it every day – some passengers even being turned away – it expanded into a dedicated mini-bus. And in November last year, the Hawick News reported that it had proved so popular, that SBC had announced it was to be permanently added to their main bus timetable. However, they have confirmed this week that the service stopped running on Friday.

A spokesperson stated: “The 71 service between Hawick and the Borders General Hospital was an experimental bus service funded through the Scottish Government Access to Health Care Change Fund project. This funding finished on March 31, though SBC continued to fund the service for three months until Friday, whilst it considered its options.

“Unfortunately, it was not financially affordable to continue with the service, especially as there are alternative services available by First which change at Selkirk.”

But Councillor Stuart Marshall, who was instrumental in encouraging townsfolk to use the service, says this is not acceptable.

“If the council think that this important transport link is financially non-viable then we need to explore other ways of funding it, not just wading in and removing it entirely,” he told the Hawick News.

He added: “It is extremely disappointing and this will not be a popular move by the council. The matter will certainly be raised next week when I plan to meet with the other Hawick councillors and SBC officials to discuss public transport issues.”

SBC’s website is advising passengers travelling between Hawick and the BGH to use First service X95 between Hawick and Selkirk and First service 72 between Selkirk and the BGH.