Councillors agree to increase cash support for local bus services

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COUNCILLORS have agreed to increase their financial support for the 100 bus service, which travels from Dumfries to Edinburgh through West Linton and Carlops, writes Mark Entwistle.

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) executive, meeting last week, agreed to increase the local authority’s contribution to £97,063 a year from the current £84,402.

Other contributions come from Dumfries and Galloway, Midlothian and South Lanarkshire Councils.

While funding was secured from the executive for 12 months, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which is responsible for procurement of the cross-boundary service, is proposing to let a temporary contract for six months from July 15 until January 12, 2013.

It is anticipated that following respecifying and retendering, a permanent contract will be awarded from January 13, 2013.

Councillor Catriona Bhatia (Tweeddale West, LD), said there had been a “lot of misinformation” about the situation with the 100 service.

SBC passenger transport manager Colin Douglas explained it was often difficult to get an agreement over cross-border bus services.

Mr Douglas also pointed out that a number of buses on the route would not be the high-specification vehicles that have features like low floors to make it easier for people to board.

“When such vehicles were tendered for, the cost [the council subsidy] almost doubled. We have an agreement between all the various councils to go for a comprise that is affordable.

“Some of the buses used on the route will have low floors, and some will not and we will see what the situation is in 12 months.”

Mr Douglas had previously explained that there were a number of reviews of bus services in Scotland and the picture would be come clearer in a year.

Councillor Gordon Edgar, executive member for roads and infrastructure, said: “This is good news for people in Tweeddale who are regular passengers on the 100 service. I am pleased the executive has decided to take these measures to back it, and to help secure its future.”

A total of 13 bus service contracts expire this year, with eight of these seeing extensions negotiated at current rates.

The executive, however, also agreed to meet the additional cost of £7,543 a year for five short-term bus contracts which are to run over the next year.

Councillors also agreed to pay £4,328 for a replacement daytime supported service between Galashiels town centre and Netherdale, after current operator First Bus decided it could no longer run the 74 service because of falling passenger numbers.

The replacement service will be operated by Munro’s of Jedburgh, which has a bus and driver available in the town at the required times.