Bus changes just not ‘fare’

CONTROVERSIAL changes to Ellon’s bus services have been announced by Stagecoach Bluebird following a consultation last Thursday.

The new service will see the 50 and 51 services merged into new 261, 262 and 263 services which will run between Peterhead and Aberdeen.

The changes have generated opposition from residents using the 50 and 51 services, who say that the changes will make using public transport less accessible. At an emotional meeting at Ellon Park and Ride, a number of bus users made their opposition clear.

Lorna Owen, who stays in Meiklemill, believes that the proposed changes will mean it will take her an hour and a quarter to get into Aberdeen.

“With the service as is, you can get a bus at 7.15am and be on King Street by 8.10. The new changes will add an extra twenty minutes to my own journey time,” she said.

“The government speaks about the need for people to stop using their cars and make use of public transport, but it needs to make sure we have decent public transport systems. These changes are not for the better.”

Willie Taylor, also of Ellon, said that the town needs its own bus service, given its rapidly expanding population.

“I regularly have to wait for more than one bus, because many of the busses that come are full,” he said. “There are a lot of people here who use public transport, and with all the new houses that are being built, there will be more people still.”

Mid-Formartine councillor Paul Johnston has also raised concerns about the frequency of services to Balmedie which, he says, will decrease as a result to the changes.

“Balmedie is a rapidly growing community, and there can be no question that this is a diminution of the service to the town. It makes no sense in a time when the government is attempting to encourage people to use public transport. I have written to Stagecoach expressing my concerns accordingly.”

Stagecoach defended the changes, arguing that the maintenance of separate services to Ellon was ‘not economically viable’, and that the changes would lead to improvements elsewhere.

The firm’s commercial manager, William Mainus, said: “Stagecoach Bluebird is continually reviewing its services across the network to ensure that we are best meeting the demands of our customers. The changes within the Buchan corridor are intended to help resolve reliability issues within the network.”

“The review will see the introduction of new express services to and from Aberdeen on the Buchan corridor, which will provide a more direct service. For customers within the Balmedie area services 50 and 51 will now operate as the service 262, and will be the only service operating via Balmedie. This is due to consistently low customer numbers making the service not economically viable.”