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Highlands and Islands MSP Maree Todd adds her voice to calls for Stagecoach to reconsider plans to cut services in and out of Contin

By Philip Murray

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Maree Todd MSP.
Maree Todd MSP.

STAGECOACH has been urged to reconsider changes to its newest timetable after criticism that it will drastically reduce Contin services.

Maree Todd, a Highlands and Islands MSP, is the latest to call for the firm to think again before it implements its new timetable in February.

Her call follows concerns from local community members.

The proposed changes to the 27 bus would see weekday services from Contin cut to thrice a day at 7.12am, 5.02pm and 6.22pm with buses on Saturdays only operating at the times of 7.13am, 9.46am, 5.02pm and 6.22pm.

“Under the new bus timetable, Contin will become one of the most poorly connected villages in the way of public transport in Ross-shire,” said Ms Todd. “Residents of the nearby villages of Jamestown and Garve will also be affected as they also rely on a regular bus service.

“The new timetable does not represent the needs of the wider local community who rely on the bus service to reach local amenities, such as supermarkets, banks and pharmacies throughout the day.

“In terms of healthcare, residents without a driving license in Contin and nearby villages are completely reliant on the bus service to attend doctor appointments in either Strathpeffer or Dingwall. The loss of a regular bus service will therefore put vulnerable people at risk.

“I have written to the managing director of Stagecoach in the North of Scotland to express my concerns over the new timetable, I have urged that the bus company reconsiders the proposed timetable or at the very least, reinstates the old one.

“Public transport is essential in sustaining our rural communities and the impact of the planned service cuts will be devastating to those who heavily rely on them.

Carolyn Ritchie, headteacher of Strathpeffer Primary School has also voiced her concerns over Stagecoach’s plans and the impact on her pupils and their parents:

“These drastic changes to the timetable of the No. 27 bus will have massive implications for our children and parents living in Contin and Jamestown. Parents who do not have access to a car or are unable to drive will not be able to get their children to and from nursery or toddler groups and this will have a huge impact on the children’s early education, which we all know is so vital.

“Older school children will also be affected as they may be unable to attend after school clubs as there will be no way of them getting home to Jamestown or Contin after the school bus leaves at 3pm, meaning they too will miss out on important extra-curricular experiences.”

Contin resident Doris MacPherson, aged 78, said: “I work in the charity shop in Dingwall twice a week, sometimes more, and I rely completely on the 9.45am and 4.10pm services to get there and back. I’m not sure what I’m expected to do under the new timetable. A one-way taxi journey costs £15 and that’s with 20 per cent off for pensioners. I hope Stagecoach reconsiders.”

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