MORAY’S SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT representatives have joined in welcoming a decision by Stagecoach North that they will, after all, maintain a bus service to Findhorn and Kinloss.
Both Richard Lochhead MSP and Douglas Ross MSP have met with Stagecoach leaders in recent weeks to appeal for a reversal of their decision to withdraw several scheduled services in Moray.
Community members in Findhorn and Kinloss were particularly angered by the planned complete withdrawal of their service linking with Forres and Elgin. Meanwhile, residents in the Larch Court and Bishopmill areas of Elgin were also angered at the changes to their services.
From Monday, May 8 a new service 31 (which will replace the old number 36 service) will begin that will link Findhorn and Kinloss to Forres Monday to Saturday.
It will also provide links for residents in the villages to the Forres Health Centre and Tesco. The first service will depart Findhorn at 0740 with the last service terminating in Findhorn at 1738. Customers will be able to make onward travel to Elgin and Inverness in Forres using Service 10 and the improved Service 11.
Richard Lochhead said of the decision: “Having met the Managing Director Mark Whitelocks last week to make the case to save these routes, the announcement that Stagecoach plan to maintain a service between Findhorn, Kinloss and Forres is welcome and will bring some relief to these communities and local residents who feared they would be left stranded.
“However, Stagecoach’s U-turn on this route is a mixed-bag and will not help the many people who have been in touch with me from Roseisle, Larch Court and other parts of Bishopmill.
“As the only local authority north of the central belt not to fund bus services, it is now time for the Moray Council to step up and save these vital routes so as not cut vulnerable people off from the services they need. I will continue to press the Council, who have until 8th may to save those services where no solution yet found, to do all that they can to save these essential bus services.”
Douglas Ross added: “I am pleased that following my meeting with managing director Mark Whitelocks, where I impressed on him the need to keep this essential service and the strength of public feeling, that the company has decided to keep part of the route operational for the time being.
“I am grateful to Stagecoach for listening to the concerns which were raised and welcome the delay in changing the timetable, however, there are still many people in our local community who will suffer with these changes and I am hopeful that the council can step in to fill the gap.”
The MSP added that if Stagecoach are to maintain the new service in future it must be supported by the communities it serves: “I would encourage residents to continue to make use of this essential link to ensure it’s retained.”