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Concerns over cuts to north-east bus services

By Kyle Ritchie

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North-east bus services must be protected against a “double whammy” of Covid-19 and historical timetable issues, a local MSP has urged.

Alexander Burnett spoke ahead of a Holyrood debate on cuts to local bus links On Wednesday evening, when MSPs discuss the impact of the pandemic on timetables, and calls for councils to be given more power to provide their own services.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Mr Burnett welcomed the members’ business debate by fellow MSP Graham Simpson, noting concerns that hundreds of bus services in Scotland have been cut since March this year.

He warned that transport links were already being reduced before this.

In the months before the outbreak, timetable changes happened in his constituency without any local consultation.

He said: “Long before the pandemic, I engaged with constituents complaining about poor services, particularly in rural areas.

“The lack of local consultation in Deeside denied residents the opportunity to have their say, and things then got worse during the pandemic with the suspension of almost all A2B dial-a-bus services.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett.
Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett.

“This double whammy of Covid and cuts left the elderly isolated and stranded.”

Mr Burnett supports the introduction of part three of the Transport Scotland Act 2019, which would allow councils to set up bus service improvement partnerships for their own areas.

He added: “For many years we have seen local routes dwindle and council transport budgets cut by the government, despite an increase in the block grant to Holyrood.

“Our rural communities have been left to look on with jealousy at the Central Belt when it comes to public services, and it’s time we get a fair deal when it comes to getting to work, going shopping, or using amenities.”

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