Concerns voiced over scrapping of night-time buses to West Linton

A No 101 Stagecoach bus heading east through West Linton.
A No 101 Stagecoach bus heading east through West Linton.

Campaigning councillor Heather Anderson fears the imminent end of the road for two night-time buses serving West Linton will be a big blow for villagers there.

That petition was backed by almost 2,900 signatories, prompting the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWestrans) to put together a rescue package for the cross-country service, albeit at the expense of two later journeys.

Concerns about the impact the loss of those buses will have on the 2,300-strong population of West Linton and their 90 or so neighbours up the A702 in Carlops have prompted Ms Anderson to call on the council to have a transport survey carried out to assess the inconvenience likely to be caused to travellers.

That call is being backed by Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame, and the pair have written to council leader Shona Haslam to express their misgivings.

In a joint statement issued by the pair, they say: “While it is welcome news that, in part, the 101/102 service has been spared the axe, it is at the cost of a valuable evening service, and many constituents have already been in touch with us because this impacts on their essential travel to work.

“We have, therefore, written today to the leader of the council to ask her to commission a survey into public travel requirements, perhaps by Citizens’ Advice, which has already completed such a survey Scotland-wide, looking into requirements separately for the west, central and eastern Borders.”

In their letter to Mrs Haslam, they say: “Despite the council’s bus subsidy cut of £100,000, SWestrans is thankfully retaining the 101/102 bus service with the same number of daytime journeys but with the loss of the two evening journeys at 8.45pm and 9.55pm.

“This effectively means that every resident of Tweeddale West now has to be home on the last bus at 7.30pm.

“There is no longer any public transport provision for any evening journeys between Dolphinton, West Linton, Carlops and Edinburgh.

“This is simply unacceptable to many of our constituents who require the later buses for essential travel.”

The new timetable for the service is due to come into effect on Sunday, August 19.

A council spokesperson said: “The council has carried out regular bus consultation events across the Borders in recent years and will continue to work with partners in order to engage with the public.

“As part of its subsidised bus services review, the council aimed to make changes, with budgets tighter than ever, while minimising the impact on bus passengers, which we believe has been achieved by the new 101/102 timetable.

“Statistics from 2017 show that the 8.45pm service was used on average by less than five passengers per day travelling to West Linton and Carlops and the 9.55pm service saw less than four passengers per day.

“The cost of continuing these two evening services alone would have been around £88,000 per year, representing a subsidy of around £30 per passenger, which our review concluded was not a reasonable use of public funds.”

Until now, Scottish Borders Council funded the route to the tune of £135,280 a year, with SWestrans paying £113,386, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport £142,318 and Midlothian Council covering the cost of departure charges at Edinburgh bus station, around £10,000 annually.