Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has welcomed the agreement by Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf MSP to tackle Stagecoach over cuts to bus services in the Far North.
Speaking in Portfolio Questions this afternoon in the Scottish Parliament, Mr McArthur raised concerns about a recent loss of bus services in Caithness and the impact this was having on the travelling public. Orkney’s MSP informed the Minister that these cuts had “disrupted connections for those with onward ferry journeys to and from Orkney.”
Responding, the Transport Minister Humza Yousaf MSP acknowledged the problems, which had been raised with him during his visit to Orkney last month. Mr Yousaf also confirmed to Mr McArthur that he would take up the issue with Stagecoach.
Following concerns raised locally by constituents affected by the changes, Orkney’s MSP met with Stagecoach’s Commercial Manager and Managing Director for the North of Scotland earlier in the year. He has also held discussions with Pentland Ferries, Northlink, Orkney Islands Council and HITRANS about the issue.
After this most recent exchange, Mr McArthur said:
“Rural and island areas depend heavily on good transport connections. At a time when we should be seeing more integrated transport provision, it seems to be moving in the opposite direction.
“The decision by Stagecoach earlier this year to reduce and alter bus services in Caithness has had a knock-on impact, not least for those trying to get to and from Orkney by ferry. Despite ongoing discussions with the company over recent months, however, I am disappointed that there has been little progress made.
“The Transport Minister’s agreement to lend his support and speak directly to Stagecoach is therefore welcome. I hope he will be successful in persuading Stagecoach of the need to reinstate services and allow better integration of our vital bus and ferry links.”