Bus service axed in funding row

FIRSTBUS has announced it is to axe bus services between Motherwell and Bellshill due to Scottish Government funding cuts.

The Scottish Government is to implement a 20 per cent cut to its BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant) scheme which refunds 70 per cent of the excise duty bus operators pay on fuel.

The future of the Concessionary Travel Scheme, which pays around two thirds of the equivalent adult single fare for every concessionary journey, is also in doubt with its current funding due to run out next month.

First Glasgow which operates the services in North Lanarkshire has confirmed that five routes will be affected in Motherwell, Bellshill and Uddingtson from May with fare increases likely to be introduced on all.

The 207 and 209 (Motherwell, Hamilton and Bellshill circular) are to be withdrawn and partially replaced by an increased frequency on the 242 between Motherwell and Holytown from 30 to 15 minutes.

The 255 (Glasgow, Hamilton and Newarthill) will see additional journeys operating every 15 minutes between Uddingtson and Hamilton while on Monday to Saturday the timetable will be revised to 30 minutes between Glasgow and Hamilton.

The Monday to Friday day timetable is to be slightly revised for the 241 (Cleland to North Motherwell), but there is no change to the evening and Sunday service.

The cost of the Lanarkshire Weekly ticket has already increased from £13 to £14 and further fare increases will be announced at the end of next month.

First Glasgow managing director Ronnie Park said: “We appreciate nobody likes it when we make cuts to services or increase fares, but I can assure customers that we are working hard to keep these to an absolute minimum.”

Transport Minister Keith Brown says the Scottish Government is doing what it can to support bus operators.

Full story in February 29 edition of Times & Speaker