TAKING THE BIKE on the bus has been made much easier thanks to a new initiative launched this week by Stagecoach, Hitrans and Moray Council.
Bike racks are to be fitted to buses travelling between Elgin, Kinloss, Forres, Findhorn, Hopeman and Burghead.
In addition local services serving the new Forres Health Centre will increase to running every hour – with drop-off stops inside the grounds of the centre.
Costing around £213,000 the project has been funded over two years with the help of the Bus Investment Fund and will also include the introduction of a new Sunday service linking Burghead, Cummingston, Hopeman and Duffus with Elgin – with buses equipped with external cycle racks for adult and child bikes.
The changes have been launched in Forres by the Stagecoach Managing Director for the North Scotland area, Steve Walker, and Moray Councillor for Forres, George Alexander.
Operating on services 31 and 32, the facility will allow travellers to make any onwards journey by bicycle – and helps meet the aims of Moray Council’s transport plan and urban freedom project. The project aims to offer increased public transport provision to minimise short car journeys and reduce emission levels.
Other improvements planned by the end of this year will include a plasma real-time screen being displayed at the Forres Health Centre providing the times of buses serving Forres, while similar displays will also be promoted at Findhorn and Kinloss alongside three new passenger shelters being installed in Kinloss village and Findhorn.
Steve Walker said: “We are pleased to support the council in the promotion of the ‘bikes on buses’ campaign – we are constantly looking at new ways to promote the attractiveness of our services.
“Promotion of the service will hopefully encourage some motorists out of their cars in favour of using the bus for one leg, or even just part of their journey, and cycle the rest of the way.
“We hope that this will be an appealing option to commuters who have a significant distance between bus stop and destination.”
There will be no additional charges for carrying bicycles for a service that is expected to appeal to leisure cyclists wishing to make use of the traffic free coastal cycle routes – ideal for families and leisure cycling.
It is hoped that the project will encourage more cycle tourism in Moray and will provide a link between the towns and coast for those arriving by train.
Cllr Alexander, who is also chair of the Forres Patient Participation Group, said: “I am delighted with this service improvement, in particular the buses to and from the health centre. This has been introduced in response to public demand, the council has listened to that and acted.
“As a cyclist myself I’m also pleased to see the cycle provision fitted to buses. I would urge everyone to use this to access some of the marvellous cycleways we have in the area.”