SEVERAL bus routes in the town are facing the chop as the rising cost of fuel hits hard.
Munro’s of Jedburgh has informed Scottish Borders Council that it can longer honour contracts to provide two routes in Hawick – namely the long-standing Vertish Hill and Stirches services.
The bus firm, which recently also dropped the Hamilton Road service, has announced that major changes to its town service operations will come into effect in June.
Director Ewan Farish said: “Fuel prices have risen by 17 per cent and passenger numbers have fallen significantly. It is therefore with much regret that the decision has been taken to curtail services in order to achieve the required reduction in costs to stem the losses currently being incurred.”
Referring to Hawick specifically, he explained: “Certain morning and afternoon peak journeys are operated under contract to Scottish Borders Council and two of these have been surrendered. We also have two other contracts with SBC to operate evening and Sunday services which are not being surrendered.”
Alternative services are available for the areas affected with the exception of the Mansfield Road/Hamilton Road service. The issue is due to be aired at a meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee on Tuesday night, with representatives of both Munro’s and First in attendance.
Colin Douglas, SBC’s passenger transport manager said: “Discussions at the meeting will allow the council to gauge where the journey reductions may impact on the local community, and where it may need to step in with recommendations for replacements.”
He added: “There would appear to be a loss of a few journeys to Vertish Hill and Stirches, but the remaining services may well be enough to meet bus travellers needs.”
But Councillor Davie Paterson says he hopes some way to protect the routes can be found. He said: “I believe one of the services which could be dropped is from the High Street round Longcroft Crescent, which I had to fight hard to get, and I will be arguing that it is kept.”
He added: “Hopefully we can come to some sort of compromise because this is going to have a real effect on my elderly constituents.”