STAGECOACH IS INVITING CUSTOMERS from across the Moray area to provide feedback on new bus timetable proposals to commence from January 8.
The local bus operator says it has continued to assess and review the network, looking at the punctuality, reliability and usage of the routes particularly during the busy morning and afternoon peak periods.
Customer feedback has also influenced the proposals with the proposed re-introduction of a bus service to Lesmurdie Road in Elgin and improved service to Forres Enterprise Park.
The company has said that its proposed timetables for services from January have been developed with reliability and customer feedback at the forefront. Now they are encouraging customers to have a look at the proposals and share their thoughts, whether in support of the revisions or by highlighting any concerns.
Proposals include the re-routing of service 10 to serve Forres Enterprise Park on all journeys and the introduction of a new service 34, which will see a bus service re-instated to Lesmurdie Road and Fraser Avenue in Elgin connecting to both Tesco and the bus station.
It is proposed that Service 33 will reduce in frequency to every 30 minutes, providing, Stagecoach say, a more reliable service for the local communities and provides a more sustainable service for the long-term. The service will terminate at Manitoba in Elgin and continue to operate alternatively in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction in Lossiemouth.
Service 38 will be revised to serve Reiket Lane, Pinefield Crescent and Pinefield Parade to continue providing a direct link between Pinefield and Elgin.
Services connecting Dufftown and Burghead with Elgin will see minor revisions, with the Burghead to Elgin Service reverting to the 32 Service, whilst Dufftown reverts to the 36 Service. The route service 35 operates when arriving into and leaving Elgin is proposed to be revised to improve punctuality on this service, which continues to provide connections between Elgin and Aberdeen.
On journeys to Elgin, the service will operate along East Road, Maisondieu Road, Station Road, Hay Road and Alexandra Road to the Bus Station. On leaving the bus station, services will operate along Alexandra Road, South College Street and East Road. It is proposed that customers will be able to board journeys from the Railway Station and College as the bus arrives into Elgin to maintain these important connections.
Listening to feedback
Mark Whitelocks, Managing Director for Stagecoach North Scotland said: “Following constructive customer feedback in our March 2017 timetable consultation in Moray we have again released our plans for 2018 timetables ahead of finalising for registration.
“We found the comments that were received during that consultation very useful in refining our plans. Developing these proposals, we have reviewed all the feedback we have received from customers regarding our network in Elgin, including concerns that we were unable to address in changes introduced in May this year.
“We are particularly pleased to have identified a solution to the withdrawal of the bus service in Lesmurdie and are pleased to be able to share our proposals for service 34 to Lesmurdie.
“We’re asking our customers and indeed prospective customers to let us know what they think, so we can take any comments on board before we finalise our plans.”
Stagecoach say that the changes seen throughout Scotland reflect falling passenger numbers that are linked to a range of issues.
Mr Whitelocks added that these included “the increase in online shopping, more attractive car finance deals and a wider range of flexible working patterns are all having an impact on our services”.
The company is holding consultation events in the area giving customers the opportunity to speak to local staff about the proposals. Events are planned to take place in Elgin Bus Station from 9am until 12pm on November 14 and Forres (location to be decided) from 9am to 12pm the following day.
Mr Whitelocks concluded: “It is naturally challenging to try to please everyone when we are making changes, and we do live in challenging times.
“But we hope the local communities remember at the start of this year we were able to maintain the bus service to Kinloss following feedback received during the consultation earlier this year. Today we are also proposing to re-introduce what we hope will be a sustainable service to Lesmurdie Road and Fraser Avenue.
“This demonstrates that we do listen to the feedback we receive from the local communities we operate in. We are prepared to make changes to our plans where we can see there is adequate demand for our services to cover the costs of providing them.”
Councillor welcomes changes
Earlier today local Elgin councillor Maria McLean said of the Elgin service proposals: “I am absolutely delighted that Stagecoach are proposing to reinstate the service linking Lesmurdie Road and Fraser Avenue with the town centre.
“The removal of the lifeline service earlier in the year had a hugely negative impact on many people in the North of Elgin, and I’m sure the new 34/34S service will be warmly welcomed by the community.
“I hope as many people as possible come along to the public consultation being held at Elgin bus station on November 14 to show their support.”
All feedback received by November 17 will be considered ahead of plans being finalised.