Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur is seeking urgent talks with Stagecoach in light of planned cuts to bus services between Inverness and Gills Bay.
Mr McArthur has written to Stagecoach’s Commercial Manager for the North of Scotland, William Mainus expressing serious concern about the impact changes to the x97 and x99 services will have on those looking to get to and from Orkney.
Currently the timetable allows for a connection every morning and evening from Gills Bay to Inverness and every lunchtime and evening from Inverness to Gills Bay. This involves a change of bus at Dunbeath where passengers have a 3 minute wait. Under the planned changes, passengers looking to connect via Dunbeath face lengthy delays of anything between 90 minutes and 150 minutes.
Commenting Mr McArthur said:
“I cannot understand why Stagecoach have chosen to introduce these changes, which undermine many of the improvements to links between Orkney and Inverness that they themselves have helped deliver in recent years. It shows a complete lack of joined up thinking in the way that transport needs to work, particularly in rural and island areas. Connections are absolutely essential and the public needs and expects operators to work collaboratively in the delivery of services.
“Under the changes proposed, passengers face lengthy delays. This would be bad enough during the summer, but in the middle of winter it brings additional problems. The risk is that people just decide not to travel, thereby undermining the viability of the service.
“I am therefore seeking an urgent meeting with Stagecoach and will reinforce the need to rethink these proposals before the damage is done”.