Bus firm hits back at route change critics

Residents protesting about buses in Newarthill's Tillanburn Road.
Residents protesting about buses in Newarthill's Tillanburn Road.

A bus firm has defended its decision to re-route a service through the quiet, narrow streets of a Newarthill housing estate.

Residents say they are being driven round the bend by bus drivers using the area as a giant turning circle.

More than 200 signed a petition demanding First Glasgow find an alternative route.

Other villagers are angry that the bus at the centre of the row no longer passes their homes.

Trouble began when First re-routed its 254 Motherwell-Newarthill service, taking it off High Street at Mosshall Street. Previously it had gone on to the company’s terminus in Biggar Road before making the return journey.

Now it passes through Gowkhall Avenue, Spalehall Drive, Townhead Drive and Tillanburn Road before returning to High Street via Mosshall Street.

Another company, Whitelaw, already ran its 201 service through the scheme, but residents say the arrival of First buses every 10 minutes is too much.

John Muir, one of the petition organisers, said: “It means we’re getting about 80 buses a day, sometimes three at a time.

“With children running about the streets, I’m worried one will be hit sooner or later. It’s only a small scheme and all these buses will cause damage to the roads and pavements.”

Newarthill councillor Peter Nolan said he shares the worries over safety and is also concerned that the far end of Newarthill is no longer being served by the 254.

He explained: “I asked First to consider extending the service along Mosshall Street to Cleland and back to Newarthill. That would provide a service for people in Cleland who want to get to Motherwell but at present have to travel via Wishaw.

“The bus operators have agreed to look at that as an alternative so that is something positive.”

A First spokesman said the route was changed as low passenger numbers meant taking the 254 to the Biggar Road terminus had become unviable.

He added: “The Mosshall area has been a bus route for many years and, indeed, in recent times up to eight buses an hour used the route.

“We currently operate six buses an hour during the day. Our buses travel through the estate in one direction only and we are satisfied that the route is safe both for our drivers and residents. We will, of course, carefully monitor the situation.

“We appreciate that as a result of the change some customers have been inconvenienced. However, most of those customers affected are a short walk away from an alternative stop.”