New council bus services receive a widespread welcome

New Speyside service for villages not covered by Dial-a-Bus
New Speyside service for villages not covered by Dial-a-Bus

TWO NEW BUS services being provided by Moray Council received widespread welcome last night from across the political divide.

Councillors agreed to take over the service linking Kingston, Garmouth, Urquhart and Lhanbryde with Elgin after hearing a submission from local Tory councillor Douglas Ross – while there was also an agreement to a one-year trial of a new service from Knockando, Archiestown and Marypark to Elgin.

Councillor Ross was granted permission to address the economic development and infrastructure services committee on Tuesday despite his not being a member – and subsequently it was agreed that the local authority would take over from where Stagecoach leave off in April.

Further details have emerged that the new service would provide five daily journeys and operate from Monday to Friday, slightly less than the seven daily journeys over six days undertaken by Stagecoach Service 34 at present.

Labour councillor for the Fochabers/Lhanbryde ward, Sean Morton, welcomed the decision, saying: “It is such a relief that Moray Council will step in to run a five times daily bus between Garmouth, Kingston, Lhanbryde and Elgin.

“One positive thing about this is that a council run service can be designed that better suits the needs of the community. I know many passengers would welcome a service that links Garmouth with Fochabers and Mosstodloch as well and I’ll be pushing for that in the coming weeks.”

SNP councillor for the ward is Margo Howe, who added: “The removal of the Garmouth service by Stagecoach was really unexpected and a further blow to a community that had just lost its only shop.

“I have to commend the Council’s Transportation section who have reacted quickly and positively to this issue and who have come up with a solution enabling the service to continue.

“I know that people in Garmouth, Kingston and Urquhart will be pleased that a bus service will continue but I would also urge folk to use the service to ensure it remains cost effective.”

The committee also agreed the new Speyside service, a twice-weekly bus covering three villages that currently are not served by the Council’s award-winning Dial-a-Bus operation.

SNP Councillor for the Speyside ward, Pearl Paul, said: “I am very pleased that Archiestown, Knockando and Marypark are set to get a new bus service to Elgin, which I know many in the area will very much welcome.

“Creative solutions to rural transport challenges are really important to keeping our communities supported and connected.”

Her colleague Mike McConachie added: “This is good news for these Speyside communities. Transport links are especially vital in rural areas, when critical services can often be many miles away.

“I welcome the work that has been done to achieve this and I hope the service will prove viable after the initial year’s trial.”