Town centre bus changes as extra funding comes to an end

Executive councillor for Development and Transport, Cathy Muldoon.
Executive councillor for Development and Transport, Cathy Muldoon.

West Lothian Council has announced that operating hours for some town centre bus routes will be reduced from Monday, September 30.

The Linlithgow Town Service (1), Bathgate Town Service (5), Armadale Town Service (6) are fully subsidised by West Lothian Council, all operating Monday to Friday until 6pm.

Additional time limited funding, which extended the town centre bus routes from 3pm until 6pm, expires on September 30 meaning that the services will operate fewer hours.

Going forward each service will only run until 3pm Monday to Friday and until noon on a Saturday.

Whilst each town centre is serviced by other bus operators and alternative buses are available, residential areas will be affected.

The Livingston – Bathgate via Linlithgow (31) service is also funded by the council.

The funding provides an additional pick up in Ladywell and Dechmont and both will no longer be provided by the bus operator.

The local bus network is provided through a combination of commercial services (80 per cent of the network) and council subsidised services (20 per cent).

The council currently spends nearly £2 million on subsiding various other services across West Lothian.

The council will continue to spend £37,775 on the Linlithgow Town Service, over £94,000 on the Bathgate Town service, £82,400 on the Armadale Town centre service and nearly £400,000 on the Livingston – Bathgate via Linlithgow (31) service.

Executive councillor for Development and Transport, Cathy Muldoon, said: “Funding for subsidised bus services is limited and the council cannot afford to continually subsidise all routes and additional hours.

“If commercial operators want to step in to fill the an additional three hours then we’d welcome that but the council can no longer afford to subsidise these services.

“The council must ensure that public money is spent as efficiently as possible in all areas and that includes subsidised bus networks.

“It is just not possible to continue to subsidise these services after the end of this month.

“The council continues to spend over £8million each year on public transport including mainstream school transport and additional support needs transport.

“Like all areas of the council, the amount of money that we have to spend on local services is reducing.

“Whilst not everyone will be happy with the changes, the council will have delivered savings of over £156.9 million between 2007/08 and 2022/23 largely as a result of Scottish Government funding constraints.

“It’s impossible for the council to continue to provide the same level of services with the levels of budget reductions that we face.”