06 April 2021

Supported bus services to change after council sets its budget

A number of supported bus services in Aberdeenshire will be withdrawn or reduced. Most of the services that will be affected have been suspended since the latest Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were imposed in January and these will not be reinstated. The remainder will be withdrawn with effect from week commencing Monday 31 May 2021.

In view of the overall reduction in usage of bus services in 2020, due to government guidance to only use public transport for essential travel, it was considered that the 12-month period to November 2019 would allow a fairer assessment. This includes the usage of each service, primary trip purpose and average subsidy per passenger, which in some cases amounts to over £20 per passenger journey.

However, factors within the catchment area of each service were also taken into account, such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) ranking, car ownership levels, and the percentage of population with restricted Mobility.

There will be a short consultation period prior to implementation of the changes.

A number of poorly-performing council-supported bus services around Aberdeenshire are to be withdrawn or reduced due to the recently agreed budget decisions affecting the transportation service.

The money available for supported services was reduced by £245,000 when Aberdeenshire Council set its budget in mid-March.

In order to meet this budget decision for 2021/22, the council's Transportation service is reducing those supported bus routes and services which provide least value for money.

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “We have tried to minimise the potential negative impacts for individuals and communities where possible, but would encourage anyone who feels they would be unduly affected to get in touch.

“We realise this may have a detrimental effect on passengers as well as some operators, but the council and communities will continue to have difficult decisions to make on the provision of local services into the future.

“These routes have been chosen primarily because they are not being used as well as would be expected, to justify the money spent by the council to support them. We are currently conducting a review of the way the council supports all bus services across Aberdeenshire, to ensure we are using the available money in the most effective way possible.”

The changes are happening quickly as any delay in their implementation will lead to a requirement for even greater service reductions to meet agreed budgets.

Anyone who feels they would be significantly disadvantaged by any of the proposed changes is encouraged to seek assistance where possible from the council’s Transportation team by emailing public.transport@aberdeenshire.gov.uk or calling 01467 538138.

You can see in detail which services/routes will be affected by the changes on the council’s website: http://publications.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/dataset/proposed-bus-service-revisions