Fury as bus services are withdrawn

COMMUTERS, community members and politicians were united in uproar this week as First Bus proceeded with plans to axe the X2 bus service and cut back X4 evening services.

The decision has sparked outrage among the community and it is feared removing the services will cut off many residents from Glasgow who use it to travel to work, college and university.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn voiced his concerns regarding the decision to withdraw the crucial buses and echoed the fears of his constituents.

He said: “The X2 is a very important service for people in Cumbernauld and connects the communities in the north of the town with Glasgow.

“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are concerned that the withdrawal of the service will significantly restrict travel options locally. These are concerns which I share.

“I wholly oppose this decision to slash the bus services.”

MSP Cathie Craigie, Labour MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, started a ‘Bus Forum’ in 2009, allowing community members to discuss the transport situation in the area.

At a meeting of the Bus Forum last week, the Labour politician backed protesters saying: “The decision by First is deeply disappointing and will have a detrimental impact on commuters in our area.

“The loss of the X2 has the potential to cut off many of my constituents who work in Glasgow and use the X2 to come home at night.

“First have made clear that they will not change their mind so I will be contacting Strathclyde Passenger Transport to emphasise the social need for them to subsidise areas affected by the loss of the X2, which will leave pensioners and those without a car isolated.”

Bus forum member Marilyn King from Balloch added: “Despite the setback of losing the X2 service, the bus forum members are even more resolved to work out a long-term solution with the local bus operators.

“The latest cutback will further worsen the position for Cumbernauld residents of all ages, from students to pensioners, whose day-to-day requirements for public transport constitute a social need and should not fall victim to budget cuts by profit-making operators.”

However, First hit back at the”budget cut” claims and defended their actions.

A spokesperson for First said: “The decision to cut back bus services which are under-used has been taken following a reduction in customer numbers witnessed by the company over the past year. Specifically in the Cumbernauld area, service X2 will unfortunately be withdrawn. Although two morning and evening peak journeys on the X3 will be diverted to serve Blackwood as a replacement.

“Our intention was to withdraw the service a year ago but we were persuaded to give it a reprieve on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis. Unfortunately it has not improved and we are no longer able to sustain the losses being made running this service.

“These decisions have not been taken lightly and we have consulted with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to give them the opportunity to evaluate any areas facing service reductions or withdrawals as part of their funding for bus services in areas where there is a social need but no commercial viability.”