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MSP bus survey slams Stagecoach service levels

By Alan Beresford

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A survey by Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam has shown widespread dissatisfaction with Stagecoach services.
A survey by Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam has shown widespread dissatisfaction with Stagecoach services.

A LOCAL MSP has demanded an urgent meeting with Stagecoach bosses following a public meeting in her constituency office to which representatives from the firm were invited but did not attend.

At the meeting, Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP Karen Adam heard from dozens of constituents who have encountered issues with Stagecoach services in the past year.

Following the meeting, Ms Adam launched a survey on bus services in Banffshire and Buchan Coast and requested a meeting with senior officials to raise her constituents’ complaints directly with the Scottish company.

The survey, which ran for two weeks from March 11-25, received responses from 1144 people and gathered views on a range of key issues concerning transport links across north-east coast. Of the respondents, there was a fairly equal distribution among age groups.

One in five respondents claimed to use the service five days a week, with X68, 35/X35, and X63 routes being the most used. 29.73% of respondents use Stagecoach buses only once a week, with more than four in five relying on these services to commute to work or school and attend vital NHS appointments.

One respondent said, “Buses are horrendously unreliable, so rarely used.”

Another added, “Most days I drive because the bus is not guaranteed to turn up.”

Almost three in four respondents were either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the frequency of services in the area and almost four in five said that Stagecoach had not met their transport needs in the past year. Less than three per cent of respondents felt the service has improved in the last year with more than a thousand respondents saying it had deteriorated.

Beyond reliability, respondents raised concerns regarding communications and disability access of services. 84.44 per cent of respondents were either ‘dissatisfied’ or ‘very dissatisfied’ with the communications regarding delayed or cancelled services and 67.22 per cent of respondents said they did not feel the bus services met the needs of the community in terms of disabled access.

One respondent remarked, “People would use the buses more if the buses were more frequent and user-friendly.”

Ms Adam said: “Some of the stories, both gathered in the survey and at my public meeting, were truly heartbreaking.

“One constituent told me of having to carry their disabled child up the stairs of the bus because there were insufficient wheelchair space.

“Others have told me that they are at risk of losing their jobs or education placements as a result of unreliable bus services leading them to be late or to miss work or school. Many have missed NHS appointments as a result of irregular services and some have even had to stay overnight near hospitals in order to make appointments.

“It is very disappointing that representatives from Stagecoach were unable to attend my public meeting to hear directly from constituents. I have demanded an urgent meeting to put the concerns of my constituents to them.”

A spokesperson for Stagecoach North Scotland said: "We are disappointed with these findings and does not represent the level of service we aim to operate across the region.

"Due to business commitments, Stagecoach representatives were unable to attend an earlier meeting requested by Karen Adams MSP, this has been rescheduled for April 17, 2024.

"Since this research was conducted, we have already seen an improvement in reliability of our services which has mostly been impacted by adverse weather conditions, one of which was a red weather warning and caused extreme disruption. We are also looking to introduce new timetables in the coming months which will improve services with better frequencies.

“We will inform customers via social media and our website when these plans are ready to be put in place.

"We'd like to reassure our customers that we are doing all we can to improve the service they receive and are taking these findings extremely seriously."

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