Uddingston residents are putting their “lives in danger” after the loss of the 107/109 bus service.
A campaign to have the service reinstated has been backed by over 700 people and SPT have met with Richard Lyle, MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill, and Councillor Jim McGuigan (Bothwell and Uddingston).
Originally run by Coakley’s, the 107/109 bus service took residents between towns and villages surrounding the border between North and South Lanarkshire including Motherwell, Hamilton, Uddingston and Bellshill.
MacKenzie Buses took up the route after the death of Eddie Coakley, before losing their operator’s licence in January this year.
Now, vulnerable residents are forced to take two buses – the 255 and 240 run by First bus – and cross the “dangerous” A74 to get from Uddingston to see their doctor at Viewpark Health Centre.
Uddingston resident Mary McMahon said the loss of the service was “all wrong”.
“Everyone of us is annoyed,” she added. “It’s not fair.
“I’ve got two bad knees and it’s £9 return to the surgery in a taxi. Donald’s was my butchers and I used to go to Tunnock’s but I’m missing all that because I’m not going to pay £9 to go up and down to get some messages and things.
“It is affecting everybody. It is very dangerous crossing that road, they are putting lives in danger.
“A lot of people go to the surgery in Bothwell as well. All the time it is money, money, money. We’re not poor but it is a lot of money.”
Pensioner Margaret Logue misses the reliable service. She said: “I can’t walk very far and I can’t walk unaided. My doctor’s surgery is up at the top of Bellshill Road and it costs me £8 in a taxi to get there and back.
“If I want to go to Bellshill for anything, I’ve got to take taxis over to Bellshill shops and back. I just can’t afford it.
“If you know the bus is coming, you know you can get to an appointment. I have missed three appointments in the last few weeks just because I have had to get a taxi and it has been late.
“I just think it is a disgrace. To be honest, I feel like they’ve forgotten the area all together.”
Residents weren’t unhappy with First Bus as John Shields, a keen bowler, hailed the “excellent 255” but, like many in the community, he felt the one-bus solution was better.
He said: “I like to go up to Viewpark Church to play bowls and it was one bus. Now it’s two buses down to the expense stop, cross the road and wait at a bus stop with no shelter. It’s quite dangerous crossing that road.”
Uddingston Grammar pupils who live in North Lanarkshire have also been left in a lurch as some rely on parents and other transport to get them to school.
Bothwell and Uddingston councillors Jim McGuigan and Kenny McCreary joined residents at Uddingston Cross to call for the service to be reinstated.
Cllr McCreary said: “In this day and age, when we are looking at the environment and trying to reduce our carbon footprint, I think it is a bit unfortunate that we are not supporting the public bus service and public transport.
“People are being forced to go in their cars or get taxis. I was just talking to a resident who is having to spend £12 for a return trip in a taxi to go to Viewpark Medical Centre to get bloods taken on a regular basis.
“I would call on the Scottish Government, really through SPT, to address this issue urgently and see if we can get the buses back on.”
Cllr McGuigan added: “We have got 700 signatures. If the bus companies are sensible about it, this shows the amount of passengers they would have.
“The fact that bus isn’t running is having a detrimental impact on several areas of the community. Uddingston Grammar has got pupils who come from the North Lanarkshire side.
“Their normal way to school would be using the 107 and the 109 bus route. That’s not happening any longer and they are having to come through more dangerous situations transport-wise to get to school.
“We’ve also got the situation where we’ve got people who are employed in Uddingston who can’t get in. That means they are having to bring cars into the area which accentuates the problems that we have got in relation to the amount of traffic and the parking problems we have got in Uddingston.
“If we get a bus route on, we give people an alternative. People are having to pay a lot of money for taxis to go to medical centres.
“It is having an impact all across the board. All we are asking SPT is to put the route back on. It was there, why is it not there any longer?
“We want it back, the people want it back and they have shown the fact that they are concerned about it and that they want to get the bus route back in place. Very simple, very straight forward and it should be a goer for anybody.”
Commenting, Richard Lyle MSP said: “I have been contacted by many constituents and Councillor Jim McGuigan (Bothwell and Uddingston) regarding the 107/109 Bus Provision and concerns regarding the withdrawal of provision.
“We have been in continual contact with SPT and we have now been able to arrange a meeting with SPT for a date forthcoming.
“Councillor McGuigan and myself will raise the current bus service in the area and how we can improve the local service; and hope to give voice to local people’s concerns.”
A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: “Decisions around bus services are a matter for individual operators who use their commercial judgement to decide on service routes, fare structure and frequency. Local authorities have a duty to identify where there is a social need for particular bus services and can subsidise these at their discretion.
“The Transport (Scotland) Bill will support local authorities to meet local needs, whether they wish to pursue partnership working, local franchising, or running their own buses where appropriate.”
Following their meeting with Cllr McGuigan and Mr Lyle, an SPT spokesperson said: “SPT have recently met with Richard Lyle MSP and Cllr McGuigan to discuss concerns relating to the commercial bus market, including service withdrawals.
“Given alternative services within the area SPT is not in a position, either legally or financially, to subsidise service 107 or 109. However we will continue to work with the bus operators to encourage a positive market response.”
First Bus declined to comment.
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