A CAMPAIGNER believes the lack of services by Borders Buses imposes a “travel curfew” on residents in an area of the region.
Simon Ritchie, who says there is a growing demand for Borders Buses to create a fuller timetable on the X62 route, has launched a campaign to reintroduce an evening bus service from Edinburgh to Peeblesshire.
He is backed by Peebles Community Council and almost 200 people who have signed a petition.
In a letter appealing to Borders Buses’ commercial manager, Sharon Morrison, Mr Ritchie said that thousands of people in Peeblesshire would agree that additional morning and evening services are needed, but they are not making their feelings heard through surveys or petitions and are simply “making do” with what’s available, not travelling or getting lifts and taxis.
Mr Ritchie said: “At present, the last bus towards Edinburgh is at 6.20pm. That is very similar to the timetable we had during the full lockdown when unnecessary travel was not only discouraged but illegal.
“Now, the economy is largely open again. People are travelling more for work and social reasons.
“Yes, there are hiccups like the Delta variant of COVID-19, but the overall trajectory of this pandemic, according to scientists and the First Minister, is that we are exiting it via vaccination. Yet our bus service has not kept up.”
Mr Ritchie said people who work in Edinburgh in the evenings have to travel on the Lothian Bus to Penicuik and are then forced to pay hefty taxi prices to take them home to Peebles.
He also says he was approached by the manager of Sainsbury’s who told him that organising shift rotas for her staff is a “nightmare” because of the number of employees who cannot get to and from work in the evenings due to there being no bus service.
Acknowledging the financial pressures faced by bus companies because of the decline in passenger numbers throughout the pandemic, Mr Ritchie said: “Perhaps this is not the time for a net increase in services, but instead a reorganisation of the vehicles, drivers and staff of Borders Buses.
“It puzzles me as to why Borders Buses runs the X62 every 30 minutes during the day when an hourly service would clearly be sufficient if it meant later buses could be added to the timetable at no, or minimal, additional cost to the company.”
Frustrated at the lack of transport provision, Mr Ritchie says Peeblesshire is “being left behind”.
“Galashiels and the surrounding area at least has the train to and from Edinburgh until late in the night,” said Mr Ritchie. “The X62 timetable effectively imposes a travel curfew on this area.”
In response to Mr Ritchie’s letter, Ms Morrison of Borders Buses said: “Our teams across Scotland have worked tirelessly in delivering a safe and reliable bus service during this difficult time. A key part of this has been engaging with customers through a number of channels to establish current and future demand.”