MSP praises bus operator for its efforts in keeping the Borders moving

Local MSP Christine Grahame has praised Borders Buses’ efforts in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By Kevin Janiak
Friday, 3rd April 2020, 3:47 pm
Borders Buses.
Borders Buses.

The bus company has been reviewing services on a daily basis to prioritise where need is due to reduced services.

It is also providing free bus travel for NHS staff on production of staff ID and a demand response bus service in partnership with Scottish Borders Council, which mainly operates as a shuttle service to Borders General Hospital.

The bus company has also asked local voluntary groups and businesses involved in developing resilience plans to contact its local managers to see how Borders Buses can support efforts.

Ms Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, said: “Borders Buses have really stepped up to the plate here to help people across the region through this pandemic. Offering free travel to NHS staff is particularly helpful in getting our frontline workers to where they need to be.

“I’d remind people it is for essential travel only: travel to work where your work is essential, travel to pick up essential shopping or prescriptions for yourself or for other people who are vulnerable (where you can’t do so in walking distance) or to undertake essential care duties.”

Local bus operators are working in partnership with Scottish Borders Council to deliver a network of ‘demand responsive services’.

These services are being made available to all members of the public who have no alternative means of transport to access shops and pharmacists for essentials including food and prescriptions, or those going to work at Borders General Hospital (BGH) or local care homes.

To keep people connected over this weekend, operators have provided phone numbers for booking transport, but the council’s hotline number 01835 826753 is now in use.

A council spokesman said: “To allow us to offer a safe and responsible bus service, a decision has been made to only operate a number of key routes.”

The full on demand service was available from Monday.

When you call the hotline number, you will be allocated a slot to travel within the indicated times.

If you are unable to travel, please cancel your booking by calling the hotline, which is open between 8.45am-4pm.

Borders Buses services 51, 60, 67, 69, H1/H2, X62, X95, 235, B1, 267 and 464 are operating. Borders Buses is also offering free travel for NHS staff. All they have to do is present their NHS card.

Peter Hogg service 131 is also operating and if you need transport to and from Jedburgh/Morebattle/Kelso and surrounding areas, call 01835 826753 before 4pm.

These services have reduced journeys with later start and earlier finishing times. Routes will also be limited to the Borders area only. All new temporary timetables are currently being created and will be available shortly.

In order to maintain social distancing and manage usage all customers must pre-book their seat. All bookings must be made by no later than 4pm the previous day. If you need to book transport for Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, bookings should be made before 4pm on a Friday.

Transport will operate into the following towns Galashiels, Kelso, Peebles, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Duns, Newcastleton, Hawick and possibly, at a later date Berwick. Hours of service are 7.30-9.30amm, 11.30am-1.30pm and 3.30-5.30pm.

The council spokesperson added: “The service will operate from approximately 7.30am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, and possibly Saturdays where required. Set pick-up times will also be made available.

“In addition, specific journeys will be provided for key works and NHS staff traveling to the BGH.

“Safety remains our number one priority and we urge all customers to listen to the government’s extremely important instruction and only travel if essential.”

Sharon Morrison of Borders Buses said: “Over the past weeks, the shape of our business has changed significantly and our normal operations has shifted to other services including demand response bus services and deliveries.

“Whilst the role of bus in the community is different, it is now more than ever vitally important for the communities we serve.

“Following the launch of Ready Scotland we are now encouraging local groups and businesses to consider bus when they are creating resilience plans during this difficult time. We can in many cases be part of the solution of issues with deliveries for those self isolating and maintaining social distancing.”