A number of residents have raised concerns over the withdrawal of the No 14 bus service to Kingswells at the weekends. There is also been some confusion over previously announced changes to the X17 service which have not been progressed.
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Delaney said, “The No 14 service is funded by Aberdeen City Council and the ruling Tory, Labour and Independent coalition took the decision to axe these and other weekend services as part of their budget cuts on 3rd March. This was publicised at the time both online and in Focus but, with the passage of time and the fact most people were at home during the lockdown, many people had forgotten about it”.
“Although my Lib Dem colleagues and I opposed these changes at the time, the majority view won the day. Aberdeen City Council is the provider of last resort and they have taken a decision not to provide weekend bus services. I believe it is morally wrong to leave a whole community effectively cut off from the rest of the city at the weekends but I regret there is no possibility of reversing their decision at this point in time”.
“I have raised the community’s concerns with the council’s Public Transport Unit and they have responded as follows”.
Financial support for weekend services on the number 14 was withdrawn at the end of March 2020 following the budget decision to withdraw all weekend supported bus services. During the period when Stagecoach were operating emergency timetables due to the COVID19 lockdown, they did maintain weekend services on the 14 but these have now been withdrawn.
Funding has been put in place between Transport Scotland and bus operators to allow an increase in bus service provision across the Country. The funding is intended to cover the anticipated loss of fare-paying passenger revenue that operators will experience due to physical distancing and reduced carrying capacity, while at the same time increasing service provision, to almost 80% immediately and then up to almost 100% by 3rd August. From the 29th June 2020 Stagecoach Bluebird are now operating around 80% of bus services that they would have been operating were it not for the coronavirus pandemic. As such the service 14 timetable has had to be brought in line with what would be operating normally at this time which does not include weekend services.
The changes to the Westhill service with the X17 replaced by the 4, 5 and 6 were due to take place on 6th April but this was prevented by the lockdown situation and the emergency timetables that Stagecoach were required to introduce. Stagecoach will continue to operate the X17 at the present time and any proposed timetable/service changes will be considered at a later point in time.
Following the Council’s decision to withdraw financial support for the weekend service, Officers did explore options with Stagecoach Bluebird to retain some level of service, but no viable solution could be found. This matter will of course always be reviewed as changes to the public transport network take place, but due to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 on public transport an immediate solution is unlikely.