Inter-urban bus routes between Dumfries and Edinburgh will continue but at a reduced level of service, after one of the council funders slashed its support.
The 101/102 routes are currently operated by Stagecoach with £390,984 of subsidy a year. South West regional transport partnership (SWestrans) provides £113,386, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) £142,318, and Scottish Borders Council £135,280.
The existing contract ends in August and SWestrans warned that the future of the routes was at risk after Scottish Borders Council proposed withdrawing the majority of its support (LTT 11 May). Borders is seeking £300,000 of savings from its supported services budget in 2018/19 and suggested that its communities on the 101/102 routes could be served by diverting an existing supported service at a cost of about £35,000, saving the council £100,000.
Scottish Borders informed SWestrans at the end of April that the council would hold-off from its plan until tendering of the 101/102 was complete. The £35,000 would therefore be available for the 101/102 if required.
SWestrans led the procurement for the new service, which asked for quotes on nine service options. Stagecoach submitted a bid for a like-for-like service that reduced the cost by £34,000 a year. This, however, was unaffordable because Scottish Borders would not increase its support beyond £35,000.
SWestrans therefore accepted a bid from Stagecoach for a reduced level of service, including cutting the through journeys between Dumfries and Edinburgh from six to four a day.
SWestrans said: “Our board very reluctantly agreed to the award of the contract, and therefore the subsequent reduced level of service, to ensure that a link from the region to/from Edinburgh was maintained.”
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