Local Labour MSP and Scottish Labour’s Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth has said that the cuts to the 246 Dumfries to Cumnock service highlight the broken bus system operating in Dumfries and Galloway and why radical change is needed.
The comments come after a meeting with the A76 Action Group, SWESTRANs and Stagecoach about the commercial decision taken by Stagecoach to cease 246 bus services after 6pm.
At the meeting Stagecoach eventually agreed to share passenger data via a third party but insisted that there was no business case to run services on the 246 route after 6pm and that the route as a whole was struggling to make expected profit margins.
Colin Smyth said, “Right across Dumfries and Galloway we are seeing bus services cease at 6pm with fewer bus services now than ever before. The cuts being faced by residents in communities such as Mid and Upper Nithsdale show just how broken our bus services are and the fact that radical change is needed to save our buses before it is too late. This isn’t even about whether a bus service makes a profit because many of services that are cut don’t actually make a loss, it’s just that they don’t make a big enough profit to satisfy private bus companies. Every single bus cut is a blow to the communities these routes serve”.
“I will be proposing amendments to the upcoming Scottish Government Transport Bill to allow for the setting up of local bus companies by councils to not only fill gaps left when companies such as Stagecoach walk away, but to compete with Stagecoach and others. At present the Transport bill proposes that local authorities and Transport Partnerships could set up bus companies but pick up only unprofitable routes. There isn’t a single council in Scotland that would set up a company just to make huge loses. The amendments that I make to the Transport Bill will allow local authorities to create municipally owned bus companies to run any service, so we have bus services that put passengers, not profits first.”