CHANGES TO STAGECOACH Bus services in Moray took centre stage a constituency surgeries for a regional MSP and local councillor this week.
Concerns were raised over timetable changes for service 35 in Moray, which serves several rural communities and is a vital link for onward travel farther afield.
Douglas Ross MSP said that after learning from several constituents both at his surgery meetings and through Email and Social Media, he has written to the Chief Executive of Stagecoach seeking further information on the timetable changes that are causing hardship.
He said: “This week whilst holding surgeries in Spey Bay, Portgordon and Clochan, it was clear from everyone who spoke with me that the changes to the timetables were a significant concern and were causing problems to those wishing to use public transport.
“For many people living in rural Moray an efficient bus service is a vital lifeline and many feel that the services provided by Stagecoach are going backwards.
“With the number 35 bus moving to an hourly service customers are experiencing great problems, in particular for those who travel to Fochabers to join the number 10 service to Aberdeen, a service which many use to attend Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
“I’m told the 35 arrives in Fochabers after the 10 has departed – with passengers, many of them elderly, faced with waiting an hour for the next service. Given that there are limited shelter facilities available in the village square and with the winter months now upon us, any significant wait could have serious effects on the health and wellbeing of passengers wishing to make use of these services.”
Mr Ross added that he had been informed that often a bus is full when it arrives – forcing them to wait for the next one or make alternative arrangements for travel.
He added: “This issue was also raised when I met with Moray MSYP Emmie Main recently as the service is used by a lot of young people travelling to college.
“With much being done to encourage people to make greater use of public transport, I can fully understand the frustration of those who have purchased advance tickets for regular weekly travel to work or to college, only to find that the 8.08am service is full and they have little alternative but to wait an hour in the hope of getting aboard the next bus – and of course then arriving late to their destination.
“People are left with little alternative than to use the 7.08am service and arrive earlier than needed in Elgin.
“I have now raised these concerns directly with Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach to express my dissatisfaction over the new times and to ask the company to urgently review the impact their changes are having.
“I hope when Stagecoach see the problems being encountered they can offer a solution to local bus users.”