South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has raised cuts to the X95 bus service in the Scottish Parliament.
Prior to the pandemic, the Borders Buses’ X95 service, which runs from Edinburgh to Carlisle was hourly.
When COVID restrictions were introduced, the service was cut to every two hours- with operator Borders Buses now saying the reduced frequency will become permanent.
Speaking in a debate on rural buses in the Scottish Parliament last week, Colin Smyth said: “The X95 bus run by Borders Buses connects rural communities between Edinburgh and Carlisle, in Midlothian, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.
“During the pandemic, its frequency was cut from hourly to every two hours, but, as we moved out of lockdown, it was not reinstated to hourly.
“The lack of frequency simply means that the bus is no longer an option for those who want to use it to commute to their work.
“I know that there are challenges with the backlog in processing driving licences at the DVLA, and there is a lack of tests to ensure that, when bus companies decide to increase services, they have the drivers to do so.
“I have written to the UK Secretary of State for Transport on the issue. However, there has also been a failure of the Scottish Government to secure proper guarantees from bus firms in return for the more than £330 million of taxpayer support that was given to the sector during the pandemic.
“We need better conditionality to maintain services in return for that support.”
Speaking after the debate, the local MSP added: “Everyone understands why companies reduced services when Covid hit, especially given the potential health impact on both passengers and drivers. It may also be some time before passenger numbers rise back to even close to pre-pandemic levels, but we will never get people back on our buses if we take those buses away.
“The X95 is a crucial service that covers many communities across the South of Scotland and the lack of frequency simply means it’s just not an option anymore for people who want to use the bus.”