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After much ado the new bus timetable started on October 21st and for once most passengers did manage to get a timetable prior to the start date.

Due to numerous complaints FirstBus backed down and restored the early morning buses to the timetable.

However, the rest of the timetable is still causing significant difficulties, particularly for residents living and travelling east of Balfron.

With longer gaps between buses and a Saturday service reduced to every 2 hours, residents without transport are struggling to go about their daily lives. To access Stirling, some Balfron residents are now using the much longer X10A route via Aberfoyle in order to keep appointments, reducing patronage on our X10 more direct service.

First have removed the busy 1pm bus from Stirling, which affects many residents from different villages who volunteer, work part time or attend morning hospital appointments.

This has been replaced by a 12 o’clock bus, ironically a service they withdrew in 2016 – allegedly down to low patronage. Not a valid excuse that can be used for withdrawing the busy 1pm service this year!

Our Saturday service has been reduced to every 2 hours despite maintaining an hourly service 6 days a week from Balfron to Glasgow with 5 services on a Sunday, as First continue with their Glasgow centric approach at the expense of residents needing to travel east to Stirling.

Of major concern has been the running of adapted school coaches on two X10 commercial services, once again, only on the Balfron-Stirling side of the route.

This vehicle has steep narrow stairs and very narrow aisles. Many elderly and disabled passengers are finding it too difficult to get on and off particularly if carrying bags, shopping trolleys or luggage. Those with mobility scooters and wheeled walkers are unable to board at all.

Even the fittest of residents are finding this bus a problem with some no longer prepared to use it in case they fall.

With so few buses available on this route, a vehicle that residents are unable to board is totally unacceptable.

In recent weeks the amount of delays and breakdowns on the X10 buses has been unprecedented, a true reflection of the age and condition of the vehicles operated from Balfron.

Along with the coaches, we have raised all these concerns with First, Stirling Council and local community councils. We urge residents to continue writing to Stirling Council themselves regarding any service causing a problem, especially this particular coach.

Letters can be addressed and posted to Public Transport Team Leader or handed into Stirling Bus Station or email info.stirling.gov.uk or alternatively contact FirstBus direct.

We should say that passengers contacting First direct have not been impressed with the response.

Please also make a point of reporting the usual issues of no heating, water ingress and dirty vehicles. If these are not reported both the Council and First assume all is well and, as we know, this is not the case.

As yet, no official word has been received regarding the provision of a regular Sunday Service, but we remain optimistic that the promised Pilot will indeed materialise. Like other pilots, its longevity will depend on residents using the service, and we hope, when implemented, it will be well supported.

Val Brand