Bus users air views at forum

A bus forum was held in Ellon on Monday.
A bus forum was held in Ellon on Monday.

THE efforts of Stagecoach to provide a reliable, safe service in the Formartine area, while meeting their obligation to shareholders, met with a mixed response at meeting of the local bus forum.

More than 50 people attended the meeting in Ellon Community Centre on Monday night, most of whom were keen to participate in the lively debate, chaired by Ellon and district councillor Rob Merson.

It took place two weeks after Stagecoach made changes to services in the area, leading to criticism from members of the bus-using community who were unhappy about the new set-up, although there was support for the service from some quarters.

The two-hour meeting got under way with Stagecoach officials updating the forum on issues from the last meeting.

The key issue for most of the audience was the failure of buses to run to time, or in some cases turn up.

Andrew Jarvis, on behalf of Stagecoach, fielded a wide range of questions, pointing out that the company did not have access to unlimited resources, but promised that each and every route would be assessed and where possible adjusted to meet consumer demand.

He told the meeting that a major problem they faced was getting buses out of Aberdeen’s Union Square, along King Street and clear of the city.

For a number of Ellon users there was concern about the withdrawal of the 62 service which had previously gone round the town before heading for Aberdeen.

There were complaints about the linking of services to the through buses coming from Peterhead and Fraserburgh.

Mr Jarvis said: “It would be impossible to run services to meet local buses, but there are enough buses to ensure you will always catch the next one.”

The Ellon Park and Ride facility was generally appreciated by users and is scheduled to be upgraded in the summer.

Bus users can look forward to a state-of-the-art set up, adding to the well-appointed facility that was first opened to the public in November, 2000.

Linda Buchan, from Ellon, who travels five days a week into Aberdeen to work, said: “I would like to thank Stagecoach for the excellent service I have enjoyed for the last 12 years,”

But while there was general support for the main bus services, there was disquiet among those who live in Balmedie.

Mid-Formartine Councillor Allan Hendry urged the company to re-visit its service provision from the village.

He said: “I am inundated by complaints about buses not turning up, or when they do are full, which can be a disaster for those going to work.”

Stagecoach representatives promised to look again at the Balmedie situation.