Rural bus cutbacks mean reader cannot get to work

A READER who relies on the 116 service bus for work and health purposes in Montrose has slammed Angus Council for reducing the running of the bus from once a day to once every three days.

Rhona Gregory, who lives outside Inverkeilor on the B965 road, is incensed that she had no forewarning that this was about to happen.

She told the Review: “I use the JP Coaches 116 bus that runs once a day, five days a week, to get to work in the Co-op in Montrose.

“I have heard through a driver that this bus will be going down to three days a week.

“I have contacted Mike Weir [MP] and been informed by his assistant that this is indeed so and that it had been approved by the council already.

“I don’t know when this is due to come into affect as it seems to be getting kept quiet. Certainly no other passengers knew about this.”

Rhona continued: “It means I will no longer have transport to work on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and in the future I will be restricted to transport Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays.”

She explained a further worry concerning her health, and went on: “I have clinics on Tuesdays, and Ninewells appointments due to a recent stroke.

“I am sure they won’t all fall on Mondays or Fridays.

“I will lose two days’ wages which I can’t afford and I have worked full-time in my job for 21 years.”

The cut-back seems to have been caused by a combination of the present economic situation, and low usage of the service.

We spoke first to Mr Jock Petrie, proprietor of JP Coaches, who confirmed that the 116 is a subsidised service, and that it is operated by him on behalf of Angus Council.

He continued: “It is organised and controlled by the council. A lot of similar services have been reduced or chopped.”

Mr Petrie added that increasing costs of fuel and wages are making such routes increasingly uneconomic for the council to subsidise.

A spokesperson for Angus Council told us: “In February, Angus Council considered a report on a review of local bus services, and a re-tendering exercise.

“Some very lightly used bus journeys were withdrawn, including two of the five weekly journeys of the 116. For residents in the Ferryden area, alternative arrangements have been made in order to maintain their services.

Timetables detailing the changes to this and other bus routes and times in Angus are currently being produced. The new timetables will be available in council ACCESS offices and libraries, and these changes will also be on display on buses two weeks before they come into effect.”