Cold comfort on the buses

Recently, First East Scotland announced the introduction of 10 new buses on the X95 Edinburgh-Carlisle route.

These are revamped versions of the ones already on the route – buses designed for use in a city/town urban environment with short journeys; speeds rarely exceeding 30mph; and luggage, if any, usually limited to shopping bags. None of the buses used on the X95 route are designed for services where people regularly spend between one to two hours or more on journeys, often carrying large items of luggage. It is called a “rail link” – and the bus travels, at times, between 50 and 60mph.

Most out-of-town services in Scotland are provided by coaches with comfortable seating, air conditioning, toilets, adequate space for luggage and, most importantly, a safe environment with seat belts. Not only are there no seat belts on X95 buses, but because they are designed for use on town services with people standing while travelling and frequently getting off and on, the grab handles and rails fitted are potentially lethal hazards in the event of an accident.

We are required to wear seat belts in a car because the consequences of an accident without them, travelling in excess of 30mph, are considered likely to be fatal. The result of an accident on the A7 involving a bus containing 30 or more people, at speed, with no safety protection would be, potentially, a major disaster.

A few years ago I used the X95 service two or three times a week to travel between Selkirk and Edinburgh, a journey of at least one hour and 40 minutes. I found the service to be reliable. At that time, occasionally, I would be fortunate to find the service was provided by a safe and comfortable coach, one of two used on the route at that time – an entirely more enjoyable experience.

It was hoped that eventually the service would be entirely converted to coaches, however, these two coaches were withdrawn and, I believe, transferred to use on school runs where vehicles with seat belts are a requirement.

Children travel on the X95 too.

Frank Harkness