No change to Borders bus services, says First

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FIRST Bus has said the cutting of routes and up to 200 jobs in the Lothians will not affect its Borders services.

The UK public transport operator is scrapping 20 of 37 bus runs in East Lothian and Midlothian, putting jobs at risk at their Dalkeith and Musselburgh depots.

The firm has blamed cuts in funding and rising costs for the move, but has insisted its services in the Borders will not also be scaled back.

First Scotland East managing director Paul Thomas said: “We have made a number of major changes to our services in East and Mid Lothian but we have no such plans in the Borders.

“Our customers in the south of Scotland can rest assured that we will continue to provide reliable, high quality services.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesman and South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume has held meetings with Mr Thomas regarding the company’s services.

He said: “First Group has taken a huge hit with cuts to funding by the Scottish Government.

“The SNP must face up to the fact that they’ve put intolerable pressure on bus operators by their double whammy of cutting the bus operator grant nationally by 20 per cent and drastically changing the formula for grant payments, all without formal consultation.”

The Scottish Government said strong competition from Lothian Buses had contributed to First’s difficulties in the Lothians, with Transport Minister Keith Brown due to hold talks with both operators regarding the loss of the 20 routes.

Meanwhile, bus fares in the Borders rose on Sunday. Tickets under £2.39 increased by 10pence, between £2.40 and £4.30 by 20p and fares above £4.30 are up 30p.