Council leader promises West Linton residents they won’t be left isolated due to bus funding cuts

A 101 Stagecoach bus heading east through West Linton.
A 101 Stagecoach bus heading east through West Linton.

Scottish Borders Council leader Shona Haslam is seeking to allay fears that communities will be left isolated by spending cuts to bus routes.

At last week’s meeting of the council’s Tweeddale area partnership, Mrs Haslam fielded questions from residents worried that the local authority’s decision to slash its funding for the 101/102 Dumfries-to-Edinburgh service could make it harder for them to get out and about.

In response, the Tweeddale East councillor said: “There is absolutely no proposal anywhere to cut the bus service from West Linton to Edinburgh. That’s absolutely not on the table.

“What we’re doing is looking at how we deliver that service for less money and more efficiently. There will always be a bus service that serves those communities, and there is no proposal at all that those communities will not be served.”

However, some residents felt there was still uncertainty over the future of the bus service.

Graham Tulloch, of West Linton, said: “That’s a bit grey, if I’m honest. The bus service from West Linton to Edinburgh takes many guises, and one of the ones we were talking about earlier was to go from West Linton to Penicuik, then drop passengers off who’ll have to wait for another bus. Is that one of the proposals?

“It would double the amount of time it take to get into Edinburgh and deposit people on the wrong side of town.”

Mrs Haslam replied: “That is one of the proposals, but it isn’t plan A. That is an option, to extend the 93, but it definitely isn’t plan A or B or C or even D. We’re currently looking at how we’re going to deliver it.”

The Dumfries-Edinburgh bus service is likely to face significant reduction as Scottish Borders Council is withdrawing nearly £100,000 in funding.

The service is currently jointly funded by the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWestrans), the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Scottish Borders Council and Midlothian Council.

Currently, Scottish Borders Council provides £135,280 a year, with SWestrans providing £113,386, SPT £142,318 and Midlothian Council covering the cost of departure charges at Edinburgh bus station.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Haslam said: “Budgets are tighter than ever, and, as a result, we are trying to make changes to our subsidised bus services, including the 101/102 service, which make the required savings but also minimise the impact on bus passengers.

“As part of this review, we have made partners aware that we do not intend to continue with our current contribution to the 101/102 service when the contract ends in August 2018, which stands at £135,000 per year.

“We are still in active discussions with partner councils and agencies on how best we can deliver a service in this area to ensure travel opportunities are maintained for communities while providing considerable savings for the council.”