SBC moots temporary bus service plan

SCOTTISH Borders Council is considering providing temporary bus services in Hawick in a bid to plug gaps being created by changes to local routes.

That was the outcome of a meeting of Teviot and Liddesdale Area Committee this week where it was heard that service cuts being introduced by the town’s two main bus operators will affect passengers in every part of town.

Having previously revealed that the Hamilton Road service was a casualty of spiralling costs, a large public turnout in the lesser town hall was informed that Munro’s of Jedburgh is also being forced to pull out of Silverbuthall, and Longcroft Crescent – whilst cutting back on daytime travel to Burnfoot and the Vertish, and withdrawing early morning journeys.

Ewan Farish, the director of Munro’s, stated: “With fuel costs rising and passenger numbers not increasing, we are currently £500 a week worse than we were before, which is not sustainable.”

First Group representative Neil McNaught also revealed a renumbering of their services in order to improve reliability – adding three or four minutes for congestion – with 21 buses a day being reduced to 10, including the removal of service 12B from Stonefield.

But highlighting regular empty buses and over provision – with five buses an hour currently servicing Burnfoot – SBC’s passenger transport manager Colin Douglas secured an assurance from both companies to discuss a ‘Voluntary Quality Partnership’. He said: “It would make a lot of sense to all sit down and look at the number of passengers. At times there are too many buses in certain areas.”

But after hearing several comments from members of the public regarding essential journeys being affected, Mr Douglas revealed that SBC could lay on temporary additional buses, including a possible ‘outer circle’ for Stirches, Burnfoot and Hamilton Road.

He told the Hawick News: “The council will look in the short term at providing occasional services to Stonefield, Longcroft Crescent and Hamilton Road which appear to be the worst affected areas.”

The changes to the local services are on display at the bus stop in Mart Street.