South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has written to Scottish Borders Council to urge them to reconsider funding cuts to the X95 bus which runs between Edinburgh/Galashiels/Langholm and Carlisle.
The bus is a lifeline for many residents in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, including those who regularly travel between Langholm and Carlisle and rely on this service.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the South West of Scotland Transport Partnership (SWestrans) on Friday (June 19). Scottish Borders Council wants to reduce the current provision on the Monday to Friday evening service, and also the Sunday service.
SWestrans contribute £38K per year to the council for the evening and Sunday journeys on the X95. It is understood that Scottish Borders Council are looking to reduce their costs, and by default SWestrans’ costs, for this provision by some 50%.
A consultation was carried out by Scottish Borders Council on the proposed changes to the X95 service earlier in 2020 and the local authority had hoped cuts would be carried out in May. However, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that any changes, if agreed, would be implemented in September 2020.
Colin Smyth has warned that in the current climate, any previous consultation would be worthless.
The local MSP has written to Scottish Borders Council to urge them to reconsider their plans and to warn them of the serious issues which could arise for his constituents should this service be cut.
Colin Smyth said: “This bus service is a vital life line for many of my constituents in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, including those who regularly travel between Langholm and Carlisle and rely on this bus.
“There is no need for Scottish Borders Council to be making a decision about cutting journeys on the X95 at this time, when the Covid-19 pandemic is still seriously impacting public transport.
“The service is very limited at present because of lockdown and we have no idea when it will return to pre-existing levels, if ever, and what demand will be like as we move further out of lockdown. Consultations carried out previously are completely worthless, as patterns of travel and bus use are likely to be very different in the months ahead.
“I have written to Scottish Borders Councils, urging them to reconsider their plans to cut funding as a matter of priority. The council should be investing to maintain bus services right now, instead of trying to cut them.
“This is not the first time the local authority has shown a lack of partnership working with their south of Scotland partners. In 2018, Scottish Borders cut its support for the Dumfries to Edinburgh bus route by £100,000 and I would not want to see the X95 suffer the same fate.”