Published: 18/03/2017 07:43 - Updated: 17/03/2017 12:31

Kinloss challenge to bus cuts

Bus services are under threat.
Bus services are under threat.

KINLOSS Barracks has warned the bus cuts planned by Stagecoach will leave its personnel severely isolated.

The company is set to change its timetable from May 1, leaving Kinloss and Findhorn with no buses.

Stagecoach states the 36 service is not financially viable, but news of its imminent withdrawal has caused widespread concern since it was first announced at the start of this month.

Ruth Douglas, the barracks’ staff officer said: "Access to Forres, Elgin and the rest of Moray is incredibly important to many of our personnel who come from down south and have no extended family nearby to support them.

"I’m also deeply worried about how the partners of our personnel will cope, especially those with young families who, due to a posting, are left by themselves for several months."

Mrs Douglas is a civilian whose role is to forge links between the barracks and the Moray public. On Friday she talked with Mark Whitelocks, the regional Stagecoach manager, in a meeting arranged by MSP Douglas Ross.

However, Stagecoach seemingly remains committed to soon withdrawing the 36 and other services in Moray, including the 31.

The Dial-a-Bus service, which passengers have to book the day before they travel, has been touted as a possible replacement for the lost Stagecoach buses. However, Mrs Douglas argues that it is nowhere near adequate.

Firstly, it does not run early or late enough to transport people to and from work.

Additionally, anyone wanting to go to Elgin first has to get to Forres, then change buses.

Mrs Douglas said: "It is deeply concerning to think that our families, along with the residents of Findhorn and Kinloss will soon be isolated unless they have a vehicle or can afford to pay taxi fares on a regular basis.

"We face a logistical nightmare. I hope that Stagecoach will listen to the views which have been echoed across the region and work to protect this lifeline service.

"With almost 3000 people living in the Findhorn/Kinloss area the community’s views must surely count for something."

Following Friday’s meeting, Mr Ross said: "Emotions have been running high across Moray, and with the very short consultation period I felt it important to meet face to face with Stagecoach and hand over petitions signed in my office and other venues in Forres, including the Highland Hospice shop who asked me to present the names they had gathered as well.

"I’m concerned that if Stagecoach do forge ahead with their plans without even pausing to reflect on the consultation then it’s quite clear that their reputation will be severely tarnished."

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