Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence sent to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity: FOI release

Published: 9 Feb 2021

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
9 Feb 2021
Correspondence sent to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000096443
Date received: 8 Oct 2020
Date responded: 3 Nov 2020
Information requested

You asked for:

Copies of complaints made to Michael Matheson on the topic on local bus services being cut or reduced. Can the time period be from January 2019 to present?

Response

I enclose a copy of most of the information you requested.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA applies to it. This is because it is the personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

For this reason the information requested is provided either as extracted email wording listed at Annex A, or redacted original copies of correspondence received, dependant on how the original correspondence was received.

For background, you may find it helpful to understand that whilst we do learn of some concerns and complaints about bus services from correspondence, this information will only provide a partial picture of complaints in respect of bus operators across Scotland, as the Scottish Government is not responsible for a complaints handling role with regards to bus services. In the first instance, complaints regarding bus services should be made to the operator themselves.

However if any correspondent does not feel this complaint has been handled correctly they can then contact Bus Users Scotland, who will investigate on the correspondent’s behalf. Bus Users Scotland can be contacted either by email at:
enquiries@bususers.org, or in writing at: Hopetoun Gate, 8B McDonald Road, Edinburgh, EH7 4LZ.

It may also be helpful to be aware that bus service provision in Scotland operates in an open deregulated market. Individual bus operators use their own commercial judgement to decide on service routes, fare structure and frequency. These are not matters in which the Scottish Government would intervene. However, operators of a local bus services must register their services with the Traffic Commissioner, the independent regulator and the licensing authority for the bus and coach industry in Scotland. When registering a service bus operators must provide the Traffic Commissioner with the registered particulars of the service – including a description of the service type, a route description, a timetable, and a map of the service route.

The Traffic Commissioner sets the framework for regulatory action if operators fail to achieve the expected standards with regards to registered services, and can be contacted at enquiries@otc.gov.uk or by post at:
Office of the Traffic Commissioner, Level 6, The Stamp House, 10 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EH or by telephone on 0300 1230 9000.

Annex A
Extracted wording from emails received regarding local bus services being cut or reduced

Extract – email dated 23 December 2019
Quothquan and Thankerton Community Council is situated in Clydesdale, near the major settlement of Biggar.

Although the area has a railway line passing through it, Clydesdale is on the longest section of railway without a station. It is 74 miles and 23 chains between Lockerbie and Haymarket stations. (Railway mileage), meaning that Clydesdale is dependent on buses for public transport.

The Community Council has had its attention drawn to the route 101/102 bus service between Dumfries/Biggar and Edinburgh, operated by Stagecoach (West) under a subsidy arrangement.

Despite the buses used on this service having been described as old and freezing cold in winter, the service is well used. The route 91 Lanark and Biggar service connects into the 101/102 within Biggar, and generates passenger flow from our Community Council area into Edinburgh, and onto the rail network at Waverley station.

It has been suggested that despite receiving a subsidy payment that it appears that Stagecoach are operating this service in a substandard manner, due to the number of late starts and breakdowns on their fleet of old buses.

Our investigations have relieved that these suggestions have more than a small amount of truth within them.

Monday 16th December 2019 saw the 1020 Edinburgh to Biggar and the 1153 Biggar to Edinburgh services cancelled.

Tuesday 17th December 2019 saw the 0911 Dumfries to Edinburgh break down en-route and the 1220 Edinburgh to Biggar service start 20 minutes late.

Wednesday 18th December 2019 saw the 0820 Edinburgh to Biggar cancelled, the 1420 Edinburgh to Biggar cancelled, the 1553 Biggar to Edinburgh depart 25 minutes late and the 1720 Edinburgh to Dumfries depart 20 minutes late.

Thursday 19th December 2019 saw the 0853 Biggar to Edinburgh Cancelled, the 1020 Edinburgh to Biggar cancelled and the 0911 Dumfries to Edinburgh start 40 minutes late.

This snap shot of the problems faced by users on the 101/102 service does not, paint a good picture.

Extract – email dated 20 January 2020
Good evening,

I have made a complaint towards lothian buses for the fact that their buses were no show at least once a week in the area of Dalkeith (bus 3 and bus X33). I have contacted them regarding the issue and the fact that they do not inform the public about the lateness of the bus. As a user I do not expect 100% reliability but if you consider one user on one round trip per day and a lack of service at least once a week in December, their company might have more than one occurrence.

I have contacted them several times and they acknowledged the problem however they did not offer anything that would compensate for the lateness, stress caused and anxiety of possibly not being able to be at work on time.

Please find attached our communication we had by twitter and email.

Thank you for your help in this matter.

Kind regards,

Extract –email dated 26 June 2020
I wish to complain and hope something can be done regarding Stagecoach bus service in ayrshire.

When i got the bus this morning the driver told me as of Monday, 29th June my bus won’t be running. X16 from kilmarnock to Hamilton.

Originally this bus ran from Hamilton to Kilmarnock to Ayr and back again. Since lockdown it has been running Hamilton to Kilmarnock to Hamilton every 2 hours!

Stage coach are now only running the X16 kilmarnock to Ayr.

There are people using this bus to travel to work (Kilmarnock to Hamilton) among others travelling into and out of Kilmarnock who stay the far end of New Farm Loch area ( south dean rd & the courts) these people travel to and from work and elderly people use this service for shopping.

Stagecoach may say the service isn’t busy, they tried to take this service off last year also but people rely on it.

Stagecoach will also say they run service 6&7 to New Farm Loch but that service runs the opposite side from X16 area.

Does Scottish Government not fund and subsidise Stage coach to run a public transport service? Usual Stagecoach- profit over customer care.

I have emailed a complaint to Stagecoach but i really hope something can be done for us (the public transport users) I look forward to your reply.

Regards

Extract – email dated 26 June 2020
I have been advised that the number 19 Blackford/auchterarder (stagecoach) will not be running until the further notice. I have been told to contact your company regarding the issue!

A lot of our community use the Sunday service 19 and the 6pm service onwards to and from work. It will cause a big issue to those all going back to work next week! Not everyone works 9 till 5 quite a lot of people work in hospitality and depending on buses to and from especially glenegals staff .. if you got enough interest for everyone who uses the service would you put back on in the next week or so?

Extract – email dates 6 July 2020
As a resident of High Earnock in Hamilton and yards from the terminus of the now defunct, as of Friday 3rd July, First Bus X1 service. I now find myself cut off without a means of travelling into Hamilton town centre and Glasgow without walking half a mile downhill to get a bus ( 226 )and over a mile uphill all the way on my return home, this is because the 226 runs on a loop.

I wish to be advised on if and how you are going to organise a replacement service to High Earnock for myself as well as other Earnock residents. Many elderly people, essential workers at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and students are now unable to travel without considerable difficulty into Glasgow or have direct access to Hamilton town centre without incurring a walk of 1 - 2 miles on outbound and return journeys.

Extract – email dated 9 July 2020​​​​​​​
Are you aware that First Bus intends to restrict the 31 bus service causing huge problems to people in Carmunnock and Stewartfield East Kilbride.

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