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Council seeks views on supported bus services

By David Porter

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A survey seeking the views of Aberdeenshire residents and communities to identify travel priorities and preferences is being launched later this month.

Aberdeenshire Council is undertaking a clean-sheet review of the local bus, and dial-a-bus, services that it financially supports, to assist the decision-making on how to prioritise spend.

They have highlighted that it is vital that the consultation survey attracts not just existing passenger transport service users, but engages with as wide an audience as possible in order to help the council understand the areas where provision of bus services is affecting people’s ability to access key destinations and activities.

The questionnaire focuses on ascertaining views on how best to provide supported bus services and can be completed as individuals or on behalf of an organisation.

The findings of the survey will complement feedback which the council routinely receives from Area Bus Forums.

Bus services in Scotland are provided in a deregulated marketplace, with most bus services provided on a commercial basis by private companies.

Bus operators can choose to provide services on any route and with any timetable, provided they have registered the bus service with the Office of the Scottish Traffic Commissioner.

These bus services are described as “commercial”.

Local authorities such as Aberdeenshire Council have a duty to identify travel needs within their area which are not otherwise met, and secure what public transport is appropriate taking into account the funds available.

These bus services are described as “supported”.

In addition to funding fixed route bus services, the council supports community transport, for example dial-a-bus and voluntary car schemes operated by the voluntary sector, provides door-to-door dial-a-bus services and also provides a TaxiCard Scheme which offers a discount on taxi fares, usually £5 per journey, for older and disabled residents.

Chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, councillor Peter Argyle, said: “It was agreed earlier this year that the network should be reassessed by means of a clean-sheet approach, in order to identify a more sustainable network in the longer term that will more effectively cater for otherwise unmet travel needs, assist in addressing patronage decline and provide better value for money.

“I would encourage all those who currently use bus services or may require them in the future to complete this quick survey which will provide vital information for our wider consultation.”

Further information on the council’s strategy and associated current policies for the support of passenger transport including local bus services, can be found in the Passenger Transport Strategy https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/7991/passengertransportstrategy.pdf

The questionnaire will be available online from Monday, October 28 to Monday, December 9 2019 at https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/public-transport/policies-strategies-and-contracts/

Printed copies are being made available in local libraries, Aberdeenshire Council offices, Ellon Park & Ride, and Peterhead Interchange, with effect from Saturday, November 2.

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