Highland MSP calls on council to review retendering of bus services

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has called for an urgent review of the retendering of bus service contracts by Highland Council. 

Highlighting examples right across her constituency, Kate Forbes MSP said that the 15 per cent budget reduction by the local authority had “disproportionately decimated” timetables. 

The new timetables, many a direct result from the council’s re-tendering decisions, came into force yesterday (Monday 24 April). 

Kate Forbes MSP explained: “At December’s meeting of the Community Services Committee, councillors agreed to a savings target over four years of £2.2m on the £15m budget for bus and home to school transport. This is a reduction of just under 15 per cent.

“However, in my constituency alone, bus timetables have been disproportionately decimated as an outcome of these retendering decisions.

“For example, on the Black Isle there is now no commuter service from Culbokie to Inverness, and the 26 service to Fortrose has been effectively halved to an hourly service.

“Over on the other side of my constituency, in Lochaber lifeline services serving the likes of Acharacle have been almost entirely removed – the same is true for parts of Skye.”

The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch continued: “I have written to senior officials at the Highland Council calling for the recent retendering exercise to be reviewed at the first available opportunity. 

“It appears to me that decisions have been made largely on cost, with less consideration given to the value bus services provide to rural communities.

“Whilst I appreciate that financial constraints require service reductions, I reiterate that the 15 per cent budget cut appears to have resulted in a much greater loss of services.

“There is a role here for all of us to use local transport as much as possible to demonstrate how important it is.”

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