The MSP for Skye has welcomed the partial return of a bus service to Sleat – three weeks after it was axed as a result of Highland Council’s retendering of bus contracts.
Last week officials from the council and Stagecoach announced the partial reprieve, which will operate on a reduced basis from Sleat to Broadford and Portree from Monday (15 May) until the summer timetable begins on 4 June.
As well as calling on Highland Council to urgently review the retendering of bus service contracts, Kate Forbes MSP had been pressing the local authority to find a temporary solution for the south end of Skye.
Kate Forbes MSP said: “I’m pleased that Stagecoach have compromised slightly in introducing a service between Sleat and Broadford or Portree on 15 May, rather than waiting until 4 June.
“That would have meant almost six weeks without any commercial service for Sleat – leaving commuters and holiday-makers in a real dilemma.
“This shows that something can always be done to make life a little bit easier and if small compromises were made across my constituency then we’d actually be able to solve a lot of the problems of transport and commuting.
“Obviously, I would like to see regular and dependable public transport for remote and rural communities but there is a responsibility on all of us to then use it as much as possible.”
At December’s meeting of the Community Services Committee, Highland councillors agreed to a savings target over four years of £2.2m on the £15m budget for bus and home to school transport – a reduction of just under 15 per cent.
However, in Kate Forbes MSP’s Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch constituency, the MSP has argued that bus timetables have been disproportionately decimated as an outcome of the retendering decisions.
Last month Ms Forbes wrote to senior officials at the council, calling for the retendering exercise to be reviewed at the first available opportunity.
She had argued that decisions had been made “largely on cost, with less consideration given to the value bus services provide to rural communities”.