More passengers are on the buses after fares were reduced

Customers have taken advantage of cheaper prices on buses
Customers have taken advantage of cheaper prices on buses

Travellers have been using buses more in the Falkirk district after an operator reduced its prices, latest figures show.

First Scotland East/Midland Bluebird say it has had in excess of 40 per cent increases on bus routes, with a number in the district showing welcome rises.

On the Falkirk to Bathgate 29 service there has been an increase of more than 48 per cent in passengers over the past year, which has led the company to extend the service to Broxburn.

Other passenger increases in the district include – Service 2, Falkirk to Dunipace (12 per cent), now extended to Stirling; service 5, Langlees to Bo’ness (8.2 per cent and now benefiting from the Falkirk area cut-price zonal fares package announced last year); service 38, Stirling to Edinburgh Royal Route (5.5 per cent) and now with additional peak time journeys.

First’s move to bring in zonal fares came after a campaign to lower bus prices in the Falkirk area by former councillor Craig R Martin.

First managing director Paul McGowan said the growth was down to “significant investment” and by “listening to customers and through close partnership with stakeholders” such as local authorities like Falkirk Council.

Call for de-regulation

Former Falkirk North Councillor Craig R Martin called for changes in bus regulation and began a campaign for lower fares in the district last year.

He raised concerns after Falkirk council was being forced to subsidise local bus services – using public money – that private companies had abandoned.

Dr Martin wants bus services brought under public control to ensure services are kept running and highlighted the Lothian Buses system in Edinburgh as a example of success.

First say more regulation would threaten investment and run up more costs.