Councillor allows emergency debate over withdrawn bus service

Garmouth to Elgin service to be discussed tomorrow
Garmouth to Elgin service to be discussed tomorrow

LOCAL CONCERNS OVER the withdrawal of a key Stagecoach bus service could be addressed by a Moray Council committee this week.

At the weekend insideMoray reported that the concerns of residents in Garmouth, Kingston, Urquhart and Lhanbryde over the withdrawal of Service 34 in April was such that a public meeting was called to discuss the issue on March 15.

However, responding to the insideMoray story the chairman of the economic development and infrastructure committee, Councillor John Cowe, revealed that he was allowing an emergency report on the issue to be placed before Councillors tomorrow.

Councillor Cowe said: “The Stagecoach service to the Garmouth, Kingston and Lhanbryde area will cease from Monday April 18. I have accepted a late report to the committee on Tuesday which, with committee approval, will hopefully address local concerns.

“Also on the agenda is the opportunity to provide a twice weekly service to Elgin from Marypark, Knockando and Archiestown.”

While a spokeswoman for Stagecoach insisted that the withdrawal of Service 34 was because it was “rarely used”, several regular passengers have disputed that statement.

Mel Forsyth said: “The service is always used – cutting off people who need transport via a Public service is not on.”

Local mum Charlotte Smith said: “To say I’m feeling stiffed by Stagecoach lately is unreal. It costs me £17.80 to get my children to Elgin from Kinloss – and then even if a different service takes over it’s going to cost me extra to Garmouth where my Mum lives.

“At present I’m helping care for my disabled brother as Mum has had a stroke. We’re going to have to walk from the A96. With Garmouth I’ve never understood why one of the buses to Aberdeen couldn’t come up through Lhanbryde and back out to Mosstodloch. It would only make it to the top of the village but at least it would provide services later into the day.”

Mo Logan meanwhile ventured that the use of smaller buses might hold the key: “Why are there not smaller buses used on any route that it’s felt are little used?

“Often there are coach sized vehicles on these routes – surely that is uneconomical. This proposed withdrawal could be to cover the lack of serviceable buses – there are always breakdowns that result in late or withdrawn services, so it’s not surprising that the public sometimes turn their back on such unreliable modes of transport.”