Bus cuts go ahead in Galloway

Buses services parked up after last week’s Swestrans Board meeting included the link from Stranraer to the ferry terminal .

The night time service from Stranraer to Newton Stewart was also axed.

At last Friday’s meeting in Dumfries, board members under pressure to find savings of £315,000 in this financial year 2016/2017 agreed to accept five areas highlighted in a report where savings or increased income could be achieved which would reduce the overall target for local bus savings by some £110,000 to £205,000.

The services recommended for removal were the 358 dedicated rail/ferry link, known as the electric bus, that operated every two hours between Stranraer and Girvan via the ferry terminals at Cairnryan.

The annual saving for Swestrans to cut this service will by £27,563. The reasons given for ending the link were the route was subsidised per passenger and it’s low usage.

Also sidelined is the late night bus to and from Stranraer, saving Swestrans £9,754. There will now be no night buses to and from the two towns after 6pm Monday to Saturday. The reasons given for terminating this service was, once more, low usage, with and average of four passengers per journey.

The frequency of Stranraer town buses will also be reduced to one per hour, a loss of 30 journeys, saving £8,330.

Also going is the Sunday service from Newton Stewart to Girvan at a saving of £5,292. The board decided to end this service as statistics show only one passenger per journey.

Saved meantime is the Stranraer to Portpatrick service at nights and on Sundays.

Cutting those runs from the timetable would have saved £11,116 but it was reprieved because ending the service was deemed to have a higher impact on communities by the board.

A report to the board stated that since the council’s decision to cut the funding to Swestrans by nine per cent (£315,000) time was of the essence.

It said: “Each day the process is delayed adds approximately £865 to the savings total required.”

At Monday evening’s meeting of the Cree Valley Community Council, community councillor Neil Cairns said he had attended the board meeting, but had not been allowed to speak. He was outraged by the service cuts which he said would have passengers coming off the late night train to Stranraer stranded.Mid Galloway Councillor Jim McColm pointed out that the Swestrans Board meeting had been open to the public but was not an ‘open meeting’ where members of the public could speak.