Bus journeys are slashed

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FIRST Bus users are bracing themselves for service cuts that take effect from Monday, with fewer journeys timetabled on the 6A route that serves Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Bo’ness and Linlithgow.

FIRST Bus users are bracing themselves for service cuts that take effect from Monday, with fewer journeys timetabled on the 6A route that serves Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Bo’ness and Linlithgow.

Evening services, Monday to Friday, are slashed, and the number of Sunday buses on the road also drops dramatically.

Disgruntled travellers who commute to work by train and get later buses home to Bo’ness from Linlithgow face having to make alternative arrangements and hospital visitors will also have to consult the revised timetables.

This week the company cited the economic climate and an external funding cut as having made a widespread service review necessary.

It pointed to low 6A passenger numbers at certain times making several journeys unviable. Saturday buses are unaffected.

Revealed in the new timetable, currently published on First Bus’ website:

nMonday to Friday, the six 6A evening services from the hospital to Bo’ness are cut to one, leaving at 8.07pm.

The four services from Bo’ness to the hospital are reduced to one, 6.55pm from the town’s bus station.

nOn Sundays, the current 15 buses from the hospital via Falkirk to Bo’ness throughout the day will become seven, and they are halved in the opposite direction, from 14 to seven.

nBetween Linlithgow-Bo’ness and vice versa, the 6A Monday to Friday service is dropping from six evening buses to one, each way.

Currently the last 6A bus from Linlithgow to Bo’ness is at 11.30pm, this will become 6.35pm.

nOn Sundays, the 6A buses between the two towns reduce from 14 to eight (Linlithgow to Bo’ness) and 15 to eight (Bo’ness to Linlithgow).

Rather than the last one leaving Linlithgow at 10pm, final boarding will be 5pm.

Paul Thomas, managing director for First Scotland East, told the Journal and Gazette: “As a result of general economic conditions and the cut in external funding, we have had to undertake a comprehensive review of all bus services which we operate throughout South East and Central Scotland.

“Part of the review has resulted in a number of journeys on the service 6A being withdrawn from Monday, April 23.

“The revisions have been made due to some journeys not being commercially viable due to low passenger usage.” He added: “Following consultation with Falkirk and West Lothian Councils, Falkirk Council have provided funding to enable some journeys which operate between Falkirk and Bo’ness to be retained on a tendered basis.

“For full timetable details please visit our web pages www.firstgroup.com/scotlandeast or call our customer services team on 08708 72 72 71.”

Changes to the Bus Service Operators Grant were announced earlier this year, with Transport Minister Keith Brown saying they would encourage fuel efficiency and secure rural services.

Journal and Gazette Facebook users reacted quickly to the 6A changes. Jeni Adamson posted: “Such a shame that First do not seem to realise that some people from Bo’ness need to get to Linlithgow to get the train to work and therefore get back in the evening too.

“It may be an idea to get a evening taxi share going if this change will affect you. Think more people will also use cars because of this change, but then need more parking in Linlithgow as a result.”

Robert Martin said: “Bike sales should go up - buy Halfords shares now.”