Many residents will now be aware of the cuts to the B12 Balfron to Stirling bus route that started in August 2016. Since then passengers have been trying to get two particular buses reinstated, the 10.10 Balfron to Stirling and the 16.05 Stirling to Balfron. These were two of the busiest buses on this route and are vital to people who have no other means of transport in order to access all manner of services in Stirling. This includes being able to do their shopping, access employment, meet friends and family, visit loved ones in hospital or care homes and vitally, being able to access healthcare themselves at the 3 separate hospitals that serve our communities.
The B12 route serves 9 separate villages and since the loss of these two buses it now means residents can leave home at 9am to attend a hospital appointment and depending on which village they live in do not return until 7pm that evening. If people miss the 14.15 bus from Stirling the next one is 17.38. This is very hard on our elderly and disabled residents who are trying so hard to live independent lives and maintain a degree of dignity.
Since August, First Midland Bluebird, local Councillors, Community Councils, MPs, MSPs and the CEO at Stirling Council have all been made aware of this situation. First Midland Bluebird is a private company and at present has a monopoly in our area and they will not reinstate these two buses without a subsidy from Stirling Council.
At the 2017 budget meeting in February, extra funds were allocated for supported rural transport services. One of our local Councillors specifically asked at the budget meeting if a portion of this could be used to reinstate the two B12 buses and the answer was yes.
He tabled a further question the following week at the final meeting of the full Council to try to establish a timetable for the reinstatement of these buses. Unfortunately a definitive answer was not forthcoming at that meeting. However, it is a matter of record that the funding is now available to reinstate the 10.10 and 16.05 B12 buses.
At the time of going to print the task of reinstating the B12 buses has now been passed to Stirling Council Transport Officials who as a result of the extra funding have now started the procedure of tendering for these journeys. They have been made aware of the hardship that passengers continue to endure and as there can be a lengthy registration process we have urged them to treat this issue as a matter of some urgency.
Public transport is vital to the life of rural communities today and for the future. It’s not just for the elderly or disabled to remain independent and avoid isolation …or for young folks who cannot drive trying to meet friends or access employment……. no one knows when they or someone close to them may find themselves in the position of suddenly needing to rely on public transport.
As previously stated this is the position at the time of going to print. It has been a long campaign and we hope that passengers who are struggling with the current timetables will be encouraged by the fact that many people have worked together, from individual Councillors, Transport Officers at Stirling Council, Bus Users Scotland, Community Councils and residents from other villages and they will continue to support this case until it is resolved.