Early buses are cancelled in Castle Douglas

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MSP Finlay Carson says he is disappointed at a decision to cancel early morning bus services in Castle Douglas.

However operator Swestrans, say the services regularly carried only one passenger.

Finlay Carson said the decision by Swestrans to cancel their 9am and 10am town bus services from Carling Wark Street to the Health Centre has caused concern amongst many residents of Castle Douglas.

he said the decision has been taken without proper public consultation or consideration of the service users. The first Castle Douglas town service will now not arrive at the Health Centre until 10:39, leaving some locals with little alternative transport to the health centre until late morning.

Mr Carson has said the changes are disappointing, making the case that many residents of Castle Douglas rely on this service to reach the health centre on the outskirts of town for morning appointments. He has called on the bus company to immediately reinstate the 9am service ahead of proper consultation with the council and general public over the future timetable.

Finlay Carson said: “I am disappointed that such a decision was made without any form of consultation or consideration of those who rely on these morning services.

“I have written to Swestrans urging them to reinstate the 9am bus service as a matter of urgency, and for proposed future changes to the service to undergo a proper public consultation process with all relevant stakeholders so that we can avoid any disruption to those who rely on this important service.

“When the Health Centre was moved to the outskirts of town concerns were rightly raised over how accessible this would be to some local residents. This bus service was put in place to mitigate the effects of removing the health centre from the town centre and we must not see it begin to be eroded.”

A statement from Swestrans said: “In November 2016, all Community Councils in the areas which were subject to contract renewals were informed of SWestrans intention to seek contract prices for the timetables: as they currently operate; options for additional journeys; and options for reduced services.

“SWestrans confirms that to ensure the affordability and future sustainability of this very poorly used service (average 1 passenger per journey) the town journeys on service 512 were amalgamated with 2 other low use contracts (503 and 504) previously delivered by 3 vehicles into 1 contract that can be delivered by two 16 seat buses.

“The new contract removed the need for passengers from the Kirkpatrick Durham area to change buses at Springholm or Lochfoot and provides a through service to Dumfries. To achieve this there was a reduction on both the current 503 and 504 routes from 8 daily returns to 7 daily returns with timetable changes, the number of journeys on the 512 Castle Douglas town service reduced from 5 loops to 3 loops.

“The first town loop is at 10.15. However, between 0845 and 1000 there are 5 departures from the bottom of Castle Douglas at Carlingwark Street serving the Swimming Pool stop and exiting the town via Ernespie Road that can be utilised to access the health centre.”