Rural commuters urged to attend Bus Forum

Have your say on the local bus services
Have your say on the local bus services

A Mid Formartine councillor is calling for as many bus users as possible to attend the Formartine Area Bus Forum next week at Meldrum Academy.

The Forum allows users of busses in the Formartine area to question and lobby members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Transportation Department, and officials from Stagecoach – and hear the views of fellow commuters.

In the Autumn, following the previous Forum, cllr Andrew Hassan opened an online survey for Bus users in the Meldrum Area of his Ward to give feedback on the current timetables – which resulted in some clear indicators of what residents think of their local service.

“I was happy with the response to the survey, which was filled in by 94 local bus users – however I was not happy that 70% of respondents indicated they did not feel the Meldrum area was well served by the rural bus service – and 71% were unhappy with frequency of busses,” said Cllr Hassan.

“The survey was held in advance of Stagecoach’s promised January Route Review, which ultimately lead to the 35A service to and from Aberdeen being withdrawn, and new bus shelters being installed on Colpy Road.

“That left Meldrum in a surreal position where it had been given more shelters and less busses at the same time."

On demand for new services, the survey shows 78% of respondents asking for an evening and Sunday service to and from Inverurie – a service requested at the last bus forum by Meldrum, Bourtie and Daviot Community Council only to be rejected at the Forum by the officers.

Cllr Hassan added: “I felt the Community Council’s request was quite valid that night as they had recently had feedback through their Future Vision consultation showing a want for the service, however the figures in my survey clearly show there would be demand and these route requests certainly merit a trial at worst.

“Many people appear to want an evening and Sunday bus service to Inverurie for work reasons, and the ability to link up with other services into Aberdeen on the A96 corridor and indeed the train services.

“One respondent also highlighted that such a poor service in the evening and at weekends leads to issues such as students and senior school pupils being limited to part time job opportunities only in Oldmeldrum itself, new bus links could widen that opportunity – and that’s something I hope those at the bus forum may take into account if asked again.”

Cllr Hassan will present his survey to the Transportation department and Stagecoach prior to the bus forum next week and hopes some of the findings will lead to some route improvements, but it is also hoped members of the public will come and elaborate on some of the issues it flags up.

“One thing I did note at the last forum was that despite many people using our bus services every day, very few take the opportunity to lobby those making decisions on the service when this invaluable opportunity arises and that’s disappointing. I really hope as many bus users as possible attend and have their say next week.”

The Formartine Area Bus Forum is being held in the Meldrum Academy Staff Room on Thursday, March 1 from 7.30pm to 9pm.