Falkirk passengers urged to back bus campaign

A campaign is under way to secure a better bus service
A campaign is under way to secure a better bus service
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Bus passengers have been urged to back a call for a shake-up of how services are run and win a better deal by giving councils more control.

Thousands of customers across Falkirk district who have complained about local cuts can support a campaign for change being driven by East Lothian MSP Iain Gray.

He has put forward a Member’s Bill calling for reform which would hand local authorities who invest heavily in the industry a bigger say in routes and fares.

Mr Gray claimed: “It’s clear across Scotland the current market-driven model is not serving communities as well as it should. It’s time for that approach to change and my Members’ Bill to the Scottish Parliament will address this. I want to know the views of people who use the bus and depend on services to decide how this Bill might look.”

He points to 20 routes in his constituency being scrapped by First Bus last year as a reason for change. In 2012 Falkirk Council had to commit £500,000 to keep six services on the road after the company blamed cuts to bus grants and increased fuel costs for its decision to scrap them.

Responses should be emailed to bus.bill@scottish.parliament.uk by August 30.

First Scotland East was criticised for axing services last October and blaming the reduction in the Bus Services Operators Grant paid by the Scottish Government as one reason for the controversial move.

Falkirk Council stepped in and took half a million pounds from its reserves to keep buses running to avoid large communities being left with a greatly reduced service or no service at all.

First Scotland East insists the ‘new look’ network has improved things for the majority of passengers.