Councillors are urged to continue ‘successful’ bus service

Stagecoach withdrew services from Kingston and Garmouth

COUNCILLORS WILL BE TOLD this week that the bus service being provided by the local authority between Elgin and communities in Kingston, Garmouth and Urquhart should be continued.

A review of the service is being put to members of the economic development and infrastructure committee tomorrow, seeking approval to continue the service with the cost proving to be minimal to the Council.

Councillors stepped in from April 2016 when Stagecoach withdrew their services from the communities to Moray’s main town – on the basis that it would be reviewed after a year. In his report to the committee this week Public Transport Manager Donald MacRae reminds councillors that “the complete loss of the local bus service would have substantially increased the degree of social isolation around these communities”.

The report adds: “Since introduction on 18 April 2016, the service has been well received by residents and customer usage has matched the initial predictions laid out in the previous report. An average of 1380 customers per month are travelling with a fairly consistent proportion of around 70% of these customers being national entitlement card holders.

“The current Scottish Government reimbursement rate for journeys paid with the National Entitlement card is £0.569 pence reimbursement for every £1.00 fare paid and it is accepted that a high proportion of concessionary travellers will always bring in less revenue than regular fare paying passengers.

“However, service revenue is still exceeding core cost when considering this factor.”

Councillors have been shown a monthly update of the service since it was taken over by the council, and that shows passenger numbers remaining consistent at around the 1380 each month, generating additional total income that is consistently above operating costs.

This morning opposition councillors called for the service to be used as an example of what can be achieved by Moray Council should they run more in the region.  SNP councillor Aaron McLean said that the venture was just the type of model that they had been proposing.

He said: “If we had a number of these through Moray serving different communities it could generate much-needed income and connect people to lifeline services like health centres and chemists.”