Enhanced bus services for Borderers
Bus users in Eildon, Cheviot and Berwickshire localities are set to benefit from enhanced and improved bus services, as part of a review of the local network.
The changes, approved at Scottish Borders Council’s executive committee meeting on November 17, will come into force on January 18, 2021.
As Melrose Gait is now included in the services, a developers contribution of £26,000 a year can be utilised for three years, which will reduce the need to draw on bus subsidies.
Also, the council says the changes will deliver savings of £44,000 per year towards existing Fit for 2024 savings targets within both passenger transport and education.
The services being enhanced are as follows:
○ 964 Border Weaver service – which now includes Melrose Gait, Borders General Hospital, St Boswells and Newtown St Boswells.
○ 902 Hume to Kelso service – previously a Demand Response Transport (DRT) service but will now operate two days per week to provide a more regular route for residents in Hume, Mellerstain and Smailholm providing an opportunity to increase passenger numbers.
○ 20 Kelso to Jedburgh to Hawick service – a more consistent timetable.
○ 80 Kelso town service – continuation of service by SBC after the operator handed the contract back.
○ 85 Ednam to Kelso service – resumption of service which was previously withdrawn, providing links to Kelso from Stichill, Hume and Leitholm.
○ 86 service – a new service between Newtown St Boswells and Kelso which links with the wider core bus network.
These changes are the first phase of a wider review of local services.
Councillor Gordon Edgar, the council’s executive member for infrastructure, travel and transport, said: “This project is a perfect example of how Fit for 2024 programme works, providing an improved, more efficient service for passengers, operators and the council.
“It will enhance links between localities, maximise the potential to generate income through more passengers and enables us to qualify for bus service operators grant.
“All these factors will help our long-term aim of making our services more sustainable.”
Councillor Edgar also reassured the Borders public that local services are safe to use at this time, with operators providing enhanced cleaning of their vehicles alongside other safety measures such as the wearing of face coverings.
A new video has been released which shows the extra safety precautions put in place and shows people how to use the bus service safely.
Mr Edgar added: “As with all business sectors, bus travel has been significantly impacted by coronavirus, but operators are providing a safe, environmentally friendly mode of transport which I would encourage Borderers to use.”