A West Lothian bus company is coming to the rescue of Bo’ness commuters who are now assured that their bus service to and from Edinburgh will continue - at least for the foreseeable future.
Prentice Westwood will operate the Falkirk - Grangemouth - Bo’ness - Edinburgh service leaving Snab Brae at 7.30am and returning from St Andrew’s Square at 5.30pm Monday to Friday.
This is a victory for campaigners who have fought hard to ensure that the X19 service would continue.
Falkirk Council said it would no longer subsidise the service from the end of July and their decision threw the future of the bus service into doubt.
Now the peak time buses will ensure that those who work in Edinburgh but live in Bo’ness can get a direct service to the capital.
Falkirk Council will continue to spend £1.2 million on bus subsidies across the area but deemed this service unsustainable.
The timing of the two bus services 45 and 46 which run from Bo’ness to Linlithgow will also be amended to improve connections to Edinburgh at Linlithgow for those aiming to get to the capital later in the day.
Councillor Craig R Martin said: “The hard work of the X19 campaigners has paid off and they are to be congratulated.
‘‘I hope demand will lead to a more comprehensive service and I urge people to use it.”
Rab Jeffery and other campaigners keen to safeguard the bus link started a campaign earlier this year with a survey and questionnaires distributed online and using local stores.
Rab said: “The daily commuters who use the X19 service are very happy at the news and feel their campaign has been vindicated but we still need more daytime buses for leisure commuters and also those who work part-time.
‘‘Thanks is due to Barbara Ann Travers who was able to provide us with actual figures to support our efforts.”
Nearly 2000 responses to the survey caught the attention of West Lothian coach company Prentice Westwood who trialled a service at either end of the working day.
The company said it believes the commuter service will be commercially viable for them and they will run it for the foreseeable future keeping fares at the same level - £8.50 return from Bo’ness.
David Reid of Prentice Westwood told the Journal and Gazette: “We knew this was the busiest run of the day and thought it would be worth a try even without any subsidy.
‘‘It turned out to be a big success. We’ll pick up at all the same stops in Bo’ness from the Snab to Muirhouses around 7.30 in the morning.
‘‘The return bus leaves St Andrew Square at 5.30pm.
‘‘We bought luxury coaches specially for this service. They are all wheelchair accessible and have leather seats.”