Regulator is now on board over X5 loss in Cumbernauld

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Watchdog Strathclyde Passenger Transport has raised concerns about the controversial withdrawal of the X5 service by First, it has emerged.

The long-established service into Glasgow will stop operating on Saturday October 17. First has insisted that it is not attracting enough custom for the service to continue.

However, this has prompted howls of protest locally from passengers who insist the service attracted high numbers of locals who were dependent on the route.

Last week it emerged that SPT has stepped in and exploring alternative options to provide transport into Glasgow as it is particularly concerned about the lack of early Sunday morning links with the city.

A spokesman told us: “It’s disappointing that First have chosen to stop operating the X5. In the meantime SPT is endeavouring to stimulate the interest of the commercial bus market in an effort to encourage it to take on the service withdrawn by First.

“We are compelled to look at every option for maintaining the link involved before considering whether a subsidised bus service could be provided under the terms of social necessity.

“Even when this is put into place, in most cases this will not directly replicate the service withdrawn so we are currently looking for other options including the area, including reviewing other subsidised services in the area to see if a more integrated and cost-effective solution can be maintained.

“This is a work in progress and the final outcome is not quite clear but it is evident that a number of issues need to be looked at.”

A First spokesman stressed: “We are a commercial bus business but despite this we have been running the X5 which attracts very few passsengers at a significant loss for many years. Unfortunately we can see no alternative but to withdraw it.

“We were surprised that SPT chose not to make comment about our plans for the X5 during the existing statutory consultation period which as always, we fully adhered to.

“However with the viability to provide funding for bus services that are considered socially necessary but not commercially viable, such as the X5, were are pleased that SPT has now decided to look at options for the X5 route.’’