The local bus service is still running on a rocky road.
Assurances from operators First Scotland East that the new services and timetables have been “designed to improve services for the majority of customers” continue to be challenged.
There was some good news this week with Falkirk East MP Michael Connarty receiving an assurance that the X19 from Falkirk to Edinburgh via Grangemouth and Bo’ness will continue until at least next March thanks to an additional subsidy from Falkirk Council.
But complaints are still flooding in about other service changes, with the company coming under fire for replacing buses that used to run every 10 minutes on popular routes with those passing at 20 or 30-minute intervals.
Terri Paterson from Carron complained: “Is there anyone in Falkirk who believes that is anything other than a cut?
‘‘And, as far as ‘making every effort’ to inform us of the changes, why were there 40 people at Newmarket Street on the first afternoon all looking for timetables?
“The word chaos is too mild to describe the situation.”
Keith Kleinman from Carron said: “Since they removed the circular I have to get two buses to Falkirk Golf Club. My wife starts work in Stenhousemuir at 7 a.m. and the 6.40 a.m. would be ideal but it’s never turned up since the new timetable was put into operation.”
On the reprieve for the X19, Mr Connarty said: “The fact I presented 1500 signatures on petitions from my constituents in support of the service shows there is potential for more local people to make use of it.
‘‘The bold move by Falkirk Council to put in an additional £500,000 to sustain the local network was a real ‘route saver’. Thanks to the council major service losses have been avoided.”
Meanwhile, this week First confirmed it is investigating claims one of its drivers left a schoolboy stranded in the town.
It is alleged he was left at Newmarket Street because he did not have enough money for the two tickets he was told he would need to get home to Stenhousemuir.
Managing director Paul Thomas said: “We’ve asked the boy’s father to meet us to provide further information.”
But he insisted: “For passengers travelling from either Falkirk Bus Station or Asda to Stenhousemuir or Larbert there is no need to pay two fares.
“They can pay on either servuice 6 or 7 a single fare of £1.70.”