Supported bus services to be cut

Aberdeenshire Council
Aberdeenshire Council

A number of poorly performing council-supported bus services around Aberdeenshire will be withdrawn or reduced from April due to budget pressures within the transportation service.

The money available for supported services is expected to be reduced by around £560,000 when Aberdeenshire Council sets its budget in February.

To stay within budget for 2019/20, the council’s Transportation service is reducing those supported bus routes and services which provide least value for money.

The changes will take place from Monday, April 15 and will affect supported local bus services and the Insch Dial a Bus service.

The usage of each service, primary trip purpose and average subsidy per passenger, which in some cases amounts to over £20 per passenger journey, were considered in the overall assessment.

However, factors within the catchment area of each service were also taken into account, such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) ranking, car ownership levels, and the percentage of population with restricted Mobility.

There will be a short consultation period prior to implementation of the changes.

Where issues are raised which can be accommodated, the council will see if any revision to the proposals is possible, bearing in mind the pressing need to make financial savings.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “We have tried to minimise the potential negative impacts for individuals and communities where possible, but would encourage anyone who feels they would be unduly affected to get in touch.

“We realise this may have a detrimental effect on passengers as well as some operators, but the council and communities will continue to have difficult decisions to make on the provision of local services into the future.”

Commenting councillor Martin Ford said: "I am opposed to cutting local bus services. We need better public transport, not worse. The least busy local bus services have already ceased, so some of those now under threat are very well used and important to those using them.

"I accept, of course, that the local authority funding package announced by the Scottish Government for 2019/20 means cuts are inevitable. Aberdeenshire councillors will be setting the Council's budgets for 2019/20 on February 14 and will be choosing then where savings will be made. It is certainly possible to balance Aberdeenshire's revenue budget for next year without cutting council-supported bus services and, in my view, that is what the Council should do.

"The Democratic Independent and Green Group will be proposing a budget that does not include any bus cuts. I hope the other political groups on the Council will do the same."

Those with concerns are encouraged to contact public.transport@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.