Following the announcement by Stagecoach on 08 June that it would scrap the X34 and X36 I was contacted by hundreds of constituents who expressed their shock at the decision.
Following much communication with Scottish Ministers and Stagecoach, the continuation of Network Support Grant has enabled the company to retain the service, albeit at a reduced level.
Stagecoach has also acknowledged the feedback from Garnock Valley residents since the announcement and recognise the commitment from the local community to utilise a bus service between the Garnock Valley and Glasgow.
As a result from 17 July, a revised timetable will operate morning and evening peak time journeys between Ardrossan and Glasgow.
This would not have happened without the significant level of community engagement and I thank everyone who wrote to me, Stagecoach or the Transport Minister and everyone who signed the online petition.
During the main part of the day the X36 will operate an hourly service between Dalry and Glasgow. These services will be operated on a fully commercial basis by Stagecoach West Scotland.
Those passengers travelling between the Garnock Valley and Irvine or the 3 Towns can use the local 25 and 11 services.
Stagecoach will closely monitor the performance of the route over the coming months to ensure it is sustainable. The full timetable for this service will soon be available at:
www. stagecoachbus.com .
Stagecoach has also been in further discussions with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, who will introduce a small number of additional early morning services on the 25 and as an X36A (Sunday only) which Stagecoach West Scotland will operate under contract.
A major challenge faced by the bus industry is driver recruitment and retention. Stagecoach continue to recruit and train drivers with their training school operating at capacity.
Nevertheless, the shortage of drivers remains acute, leading unfortunately to some journeys being cancelled at short notice.
The company appreciates the impact of this on passengers and works hard to mitigate cancellations. Their website, social media and travel planning app daily and as soon as they are aware of the need to cancel any journey.
If you are interested in a career with Stagecoach, whether it be part or full time, they accept applications through their website or by calling the local depot at Ardrossan on 0345 241 800.
Meanwhile, I am relieved that a daft Labour Party motion at North Ayrshire Council to scrap a free public transport service for low income families in North Ayrshire was rejected by the SNP administration.
It should be acknowledged that passenger numbers continue to be significantly below pre pandemic levels with many people changing their work and travel patterns.
High inflation with sharply rising supply and living costs also impacted service sustainability.
The X34/X36 services were loss making pre pandemic a-and the impact of poor passenger recovery levels compared to other routes, and higher costs pushed losses on this service to an unsustainable level, threatening to destabilise the wider network of services in North Ayrshire.
The viability of local bus services therefore depends on people in our local communities using them. By switching from car to public transport people can support the bus network while also contributing to a greener Scotland.