Bus boss defends Bo’ness timetable change

201112 Boness, photo for bus route change at the drum estate.
201112 Boness, photo for bus route change at the drum estate.

A NEW bus route to replace the number 67 and 76 services will leave hundreds of Bo’ness householders without a bus stop on their doorstep.

And concerned passengers fear they will have to cross a busy main road to access the replacement service.

journal and gazette web graphic

journal and gazette web graphic

First Bus, the operator of the new 5 bus service through Bo’ness to Edinburgh, said 
people from the Drum housing estate, which has upwards of 200 homes, weren’t using the bus 
anyway and that stopping to pick up passengers was affecting the old bus schedule.

Concerned blogger and bus user Rab Jeffery complained: “The 76 bus used to turn left at the top of Harbour Road along Grahamsdyke Road and stop at the bus stop opposite Hadrian Way and adjacent to Drumside Terrace.

“The new route would see the bus turn right, effectively bypassing The Drum.”

He added: “This is an unfair snub and potentially unsafe in the interests of people that live on the Drum Estate, leaving them without a safe access to the new service which now involves crossing the busy Grahamsdyke Road.

‘‘For old people and parents with prams and young children, this is an unacceptable risk.”

In a letter to Mr Jeffery dated November 8, First Bus confirmed that it was “a commercial decision” and stated: “I can inform you that we have no plans at present to serve Drum Estate.”

Paul Thomas, managing director, First Scotland East, said: “The alteration of our number five service was part of a larger package of changes designed to improve services for the majority of our customers.’’

He added: “It was often the case that our buses would pass through the Drum Estate without picking up a single passenger.

‘‘Given the really low demand and the feedback from other users of the number five service, we took the decision to stop turning into the estate and instead speed up journey times and improve reliability.

“The Drum continues to be served by routes 19 and X19 offering direct buses to Grangemouth, Falkirk, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Edinburgh and other locations.

“We have no plans at present to reverse our decision.”

Meanwhile, the threatened X19 bus has been given a temporary stay of execution as public pressure forced bus operator First Bus to think again about scrapping the service after funding cuts.

After protracted talks between First Bus and Falkirk Council and concerns raised by MP Michael Connarty, the X19 service that goes from Falkirk to Edinburgh will be extended until spring next year. However, this will be a single decker coach-style bus rather than the double decker which previously operated on that route.