Bo’ness commuters could be left with travel sickness, after it was confirmed that the First Group X19 express service to Edinburgh will cease in November.
The X19 is currently the only direct bus link to the capital but is set to be scrapped after First deemed it “not commercially viable.”
The plans to stop this service are part of an overhaul of First East services which will see new services introduced as old services are reduced or, in some cases, discontinued.
First will implement a new timetable from October 29 which will see a number of existing services re-numbered and re-routed with the X19 service stopping sometime in November.
Managing director of First Scotland East, Paul Thomas, has described the new timetable as “good for the majority of customers” but added: “At the moment our network is a little complicated and does not accurately reflect customer demand.
‘‘Unfortunately, given the challenging economic climate, we are simply not in a position to run services that attract little more than a handful of customers.”
“We have made Falkirk Council aware of our plans and we hope to work with the local authority and explore available options for those journeys that are considered to be of social value but not commercially viable such as service 15, 16 and X19.”
He admitted: “I understand a small minority of customers will be disappointed with the new network.
‘‘However, as a commercial organisation, we can no longer afford to run services that are very poorly used. I am confident our new network will deliver a better bus service for the majority of our customers.
‘‘In addition we are investing in areas where we think we can encourage more people to use the bus, leave their cars at home and improve the town’s congestion problems.”
Concerned commuter Anne Travers is deeply disappointed with the changes to the service, as she uses it on a daily basis, and does not know how she will travel to work once it has stopped.
She said: “This is very bad news. I use both of the early morning services 6.35am and 7.22am depending on what time I need to get into Edinburgh and use the 5.30pm for the homeward journey.
“I rely on these services and have travelled by bus to Edinburgh for over 35 years. I have seen a lot of changes over this time but if this service was scrapped I would be completely stuck.”
Another outraged X19 user, Lynne Dundas, added; “I use the peak buses every day and do rely entirely on them to get me to and from work. If First Bus do scrap this service then I have no idea how I am meant to travel into Edinburgh.
“For some reason First Bus seem to think Bo’ness should be ignored and has been constantly letting the people of the town down by leaving us with appalling services.
“I would be interested to learn exactly why this decision has been taken and indeed what First Bus propose as a replacement.”
The only new service for Bo’ness will see buses run to Falkirk every 20 minutes but this is of no help to those working in Edinburgh who at the moment pay £141 for a four weekly ticket.
Councillor Adrian Mahoney said: “The removal of the X19 express service to Edinburgh is a particular blow to people in Bo’ness. This follows First’s decision to cut the evening links with Linlithgow and its train station.
He added: “I’m afraid putting out press releases, causing alarm and then hoping councillors will bale them out isn’t the way to do business. It’s appalling behaviour.”