Hundreds show support for getting Uddingston bus service back on the road

A campaign to have the 107/109 bus service reinstated has been backed by more than 700 people.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 1:04 pm

Originally run by Coakley’s, the 107/109 bus service took residents between towns and villages surrounding the border between North and South Lanarkshire including Motherwell, Hamilton, Uddingston and Bellshill.

MacKenzie Buses took up the route after the death of Eddie Coakley, before losing their operator’s licence in January this year.

Now, residents are forced to take two buses – the 255 and 240 run by First bus – and cross the “dangerous” A74 to get from Uddingston to see their doctor at Viewpark Health Centre.

Uddingston resident Mary McMahon said: “Everyone of us is annoyed, it’s not fair. I’ve got two bad knees and it’s £9 return to the surgery in a taxi.

“It is affecting everybody. It is very dangerous crossing that road, they are putting lives in danger.

“All the time it is money, money, money. We’re not poor, but it is a lot of money.”

Pensioner Margaret Logue added: “I can’t walk very far and I can’t walk unaided. My doctor’s surgery is up at the top of Bellshill Road and it costs me £8 in a taxi to get there and back.

“If I want to go to Bellshill for anything, I’ve got to take taxis over to the shops and back. I just can’t afford it.

“It is a disgrace. To be honest, I feel like they’ve forgotten the area all together.”

Residents were not unhappy with First Bus as John Shields, a keen bowler, hailed the “excellent 255” but, like many in the community, he felt the one-bus solution was better.

He said: “I like to go up to Viewpark Church to play bowls and it was one bus. Now it’s two buses down to the expense stop, cross the road and wait at a bus stop with no shelter. It’s quite dangerous crossing that road.”

Uddingston Grammar pupils, who live in North Lanarkshire, have also been left in the lurch as they rely on parents and other transport to get them to school.

Bothwell and Uddingston councillors Jim McGuigan and Kenny McCreary joined residents at Uddingston Cross to call for the service to be reinstated.

Councillor McCreary said: “In this day and age, when we are looking at the environment and trying to reduce our carbon footprint, I think it is a bit unfortunate that we are not supporting the public bus service and public transport.

“I would call on the Scottish Government really through SPT to address this issue urgently and see if we can get the buses back on.”

Councillor McGuigan added: “We have got 700 signatures. If the bus companies are sensible about it, this shows the amount of passengers they would have.

“The fact that bus isn’t running is having a detrimental impact on several areas of the community. If we get a bus route on, we give people an alternative.

“It is having an impact across the board, so we are asking SPT to put the route back on. It was there, why is it not there any longer?

“We want it back, the people want it back and have shown how concerned about it they are – it is very simple, very straight forward!”

Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle said: “I have been contacted by many constituents and Councillor Jim McGuigan regarding the 107/109 bus provision and concerns regarding the withdrawal of provision.

“We have been in continual contact with SPT to raise the current bus service in the area and how we can improve it; and hope to give voice to local people’s concerns.”

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland added: “Decisions around bus services are a matter for individual operators who use their commercial judgement to decide on service routes, fare structure and frequency.

“Local authorities have a duty to identify where there is a social need for particular bus services and can then subsidise these at their discretion.”

SPT claims it cannot intercede to ensure a service is provided.

Following a meeting with Councillor McGuigan and Mr Lyle, an SPT spokesperson said: “Given alternative services within the area SPT is not in a position, either legally or financially, to subsidise service 107 or 109.

“However we will continue to work with the bus operators to encourage a positive market response.”

Stephen Bark - Local Democracy Reporting Service