Falkirk Council link up with Midland Bluebird to restore a bus service for Tamfourhill

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Council officials and a bus company say they have worked together to restore a service for the people of Tamfourhill.

Residents were up in arms after Midland Bluebird announced it was axing its number 6 route, which links the Falkirk Wheel with Forth Valley Royal Hospital, on August 14.

Many said it left them without a vital public transport link.

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Several public meetings were held where people aired their frustrations but the bus company said the service was uneconomical to run and Falkirk Council said it didn’t have the £130,000 in its coffers needed to subsidise the service.

Councillor Paul Garner, transport spokesperson for Falkirk Council in Tamfourhill. Pic: Falkirk CouncilCouncillor Paul Garner, transport spokesperson for Falkirk Council in Tamfourhill. Pic: Falkirk Council
Councillor Paul Garner, transport spokesperson for Falkirk Council in Tamfourhill. Pic: Falkirk Council

However, after one week without a service, the council said it had “collaborated closely” with Midland Bluebird to come up with an alternative place to give the Tamfourhill community a bus service.

The proposed solution involves an amending the existing F14 bus route – which is fully funded by Falkirk Council – and will offer a two-hourly service from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday.

The revised bus service is scheduled to begin operations on August 28, 2023.

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This 14A service will leave from Lime Road in Tamfourhill, go along Glenfuir Road, Westburn Avenue giving access to Falkirk Community Hospital, High Station Road going past Comely Park Primary School, Princes Street, Grahamston Station, Kennard Street, Thornhill Road, Woodburn Road, Alexander Avenue, Middlefield Road, Etna Road.

As well as the local residents, it will provide a link between the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.

Councillor Paul Garner, spokesperson for economic development, said: “Working closely with the three local members in the area along with Midland Bluebird, we have devised a solution that in the main, addresses the significant concerns of the community.

“We recognised that this commercial route was essential and by working closely together, everyone around the table has contributed to this outcome.”

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Councillor Lorna Binnie, who organised one of the public meetings, and who backed the residents campaign, which included a protest earlier this month outside the bus company’s Larbert Road depot, welcomed the news.

She said: “I am pleased for my community that working together with all elected members in the Falkirk South ward, our portfolio holder and our transport planning officers, and behind the scenes having urgent discussions, offering suggestions that a solution to a bus service has been found”.

““However, it is the Tamfourhill community themselves that deserve the credit they empowered themselves to keep a bus service, that is the power of our communities, we listen, we act”.

Mark Stevenson, chair of Camelon, Bantaskin and Tamfourhill Community Council which has been fighting to have the service restored was delighted at the outcome.

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He said: “The Community Council would like to thank elected members, council officers and Midland Bluebird for listening to the concerns of the local community, and finding a way to return this vital service back to Tamfourhill.

"Whilst the two hourly service is not ideal, it is still welcomed, it is now vitally important that both the council and the operator now work together to promote the benefits of using public transport, and ensuring that the new service is seen as a reliable, sustainable and viable alternative to using the car.”

The announcement came on the eve of Falkirk Council’s executive meeting for the first time since the summer recess. The three local councillors for the Tamfourhill area had planned to raise the issue at this meeting.

An ongoing review of all subsidised bus services is taking place, and a report will be brought to committee in November 2023.