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Angus residents have had enough of ‘nightmare’ Stagecoach bus services

Passengers in Angus have criticised the quality of service being provided by Stagecoach in their communities.

Kim Rennie waits for the 47 service at the Ferryden Pier bus stop. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.
Kim Rennie waits for the 47 service at the Ferryden Pier bus stop. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

Angus bus users are becoming increasingly frustrated with the quality of bus service offered in their communities.

Stagecoach has cancelled numerous services in recent weeks and months, with passengers criticising their reliability, maintenance and the operator’s communication.

The firm cancelled at least 18 scheduled journeys in Angus alone on Tuesday March 19.

We received a huge response after reaching out to Angus communities for feedback on the bus services.

One passenger in Arbroath described being “late for work at least three times a week because of the unreliable buses”.

They described “last minute cancellations, giving no time to find an alternative, buses running very late, breaking down and waiting for a replacement for ages.”

Others reported having to pay expensive taxi fares or calling friends and family for lifts when their bus doesn’t show up on time.

Another passenger said: “My other half learned to drive purely because of how bad the bus service is in Angus.”

The Courier previously revealed that more than 550 services were cancelled, delayed or diverted in Tayside and Fife in January.

This figure includes disruptions that Stagecoach referred to as “technical issues” or “technical faults” in posts on X (formerly Twitter).

Ferryden resident with fibromyalgia relies on Stagecoach services

Services connecting Montrose, Kirriemuir and Arbroath with Dundee are amongst those most affected.

Passengers also reported significant issues with the vital Stracathro Hospital-Arbroath route operated by service 30.

Ferryden resident Kim Rennie has spoken out about the bus issues, describing them as a “nightmare”.

The 48-year-old relies on public transport to help her travel from the small fishing village across the River South Esk to Montrose Town Centre.

In her role as a radio DJ on a rock show she also regularly travels to Aberdeen to attend gigs at venues like Drummonds.

Kim Rennie relies on the bus to travel into Montrose Town Centre. Image: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

On one occasion she was left stranded on Union Street when the last X7 service to Montrose did not appear.

“I’ve got fibro (Fibromyalgia) and my balance isn’t good and I’m in pain a lot”, she says.

“I do drive, but I’m on benefits at the moment and can’t afford it.”

The alternative for the former taxi driver is getting a taxi into Montrose when the 47 service is cancelled.

This or getting the train when travelling further afield. Both are expensive options for the former taxi driver who has a bus pass.

“I certainly can’t walk and if I did it would probably take me near an hour. In the bad weather I tend not to go out too much.

“It’s very frustrating because it’s another hour for a bus and it can be cold.

“There needs to be a shake-up. I’m hoping they (Stagecoach) sort it out.

“They did get new bus drivers, so that solved one problem. I don’t know how they’re going to afford to fix a whole fleet of buses.”

However, Kim doesn’t want the drivers to receive the blame.

“It’s really not their fault and they do get the brunt off it”, she added.

Student says bus cancellations are affecting her grades

Young people are also suffering from last-minute bus cancellations and disruption.

A second year University of Dundee student approached The Courier, describing difficulty in attending her classes on time. She didn’t wish to be named.

The young woman uses the 39 and 73 services to commute from Arbroath to campus for classes she must attend in person.

“There is life drawing on Mondays and after 9.30am you’re no longer able to enter the class”, she explained.

“Due to a contract with our models the doors can’t be opened.

“We don’t have the supplies at home to do it. It’s not like a catch-up thing as well.

“Our attendance also affects our grade [for the class], so if we don’t turn up to class or miss a lecture it can affect it greatly.”

A single decker Stagecoach bus on Montrose High Street. Image: Finn Nixon/DC Thomson.

The 39 Arbroath-Kingoodie service is more direct than the 73, bypassing Carnoustie and Monifieth on its way to Dundee.

However, the student has Rheumatoid arthritis and says the smaller single deckers used on this route make her journey uncomfortable.

“It (the 39) fills up really quickly and also sometimes the 73, which is meant to be a double decker turns out to be a single decker.

“So, I think that’s due to the breakdowns. They just switch it out.”

Is Stagecoach listening to young passengers’ complaints?

The student said she never uses the bus to travel to social events.

“After 5pm the buses actually get worse and I just don’t bother trying”, she added.

“There’s been times where I don’t get home until like 10pm, but my class finishes at 5pm. I don’t understand it.”

“One of the times one of the bus drivers waved to me while he was driving by.

“They think they don’t have to stop because another bus is coming. Even if you wave to them or try to pull them up, they just go by.”

The student complained about one such incident to Stagecoach, but described the response as unsympathetic.

The Courier obtained the response, which states: “Our depot manager has investigated this further and has come back to us with this response,

“Driver has no knowledge of this incident. Have advised to be more cautious in future. This is out of character for this employee. Apologies we cannot be of more help on this occasion.”

Scottish Youth Parliament members Hollie McIntosh & Marcus Flucker
Scottish Youth Parliament members Hollie McIntosh & Marcus Flucker Image: Gareth Jennings/DC Thomson.

Angus South MYSP Marcus Flucker says this reflects the experience of young people across Scotland.

Bus travel is free for Scots under the age of 22, but Marcus describes young people as viewing Stagecoach’s services as “substandard”.

“We heard the usual tales of delays and cancellations”, he said.

“But also more extreme examples of how young people are being disadvantaged by a lack of access to reliable public transport.

“We have heard from young people who regularly miss classes at university, who are late for school and even some who have lost their jobs because their bus service is so unreliable.

“We have also heard from young people who have been left stranded after the last bus home has been cancelled at short notice.”

Bus disruption causing anxiety for passengers

Stagecoach Bus also operates the 20 and 22 services between Kirriemuir and Dundee.

Debbie Hurrell uses the buses on this route two or three times a week.

“I have family who depend on me (that) live in Kirriemuir”, she explained.

“My GP and dentist is also in Kirriemuir. I have previously missed a dental appointment and yesterday (March 18) was supposed to start a pulmonary rehab class at Webster’s Sports Centre.

“I don’t like using public transport and get quite anxious before travelling. So, if the bus is a no show I have to go through this anxiety all over again.

“Cancellations, delays or breakdowns are a regular occurrence. The app is not fit for purpose as there is usually no update.”

These concerns come amid contentious plans to cut bus services in rural Perthshire.

Stagecoach East Scotland will also implement fare changes from March 31.

It will cost £5.70 for a return ticket from Carnoustie to Dundee.

The bus operator also plans to replace the 30 service from Stracathro Hospital with a new number 40 route to Arbroath.

This will also replace Kim’s Ferryden service.

Stagecoach ‘offering below acceptable standard’ in Angus

SNP MSP for Angus South, Graeme Dey has been in “regular contact” with Stagecoach.

“Those interactions have done little to convince me that they appreciate the level of disruption their poor service causes”, he said.

“The company did make a concerted effort to recruit additional drivers a little while back, yet their offering remains way below an acceptable standard.

“The Scottish Government does not have a direct role in local bus provision. The responsibility for the poor service lies squarely with the company in question.”

Angus South MSP Graeme Dey

A Stagecoach East Scotland spokesperson said: “Since the beginning of the year we have faced a number of challenges, in particular the adverse weather.

“This impacts the reliability of our fleet, from frozen doors, brakes and air systems, as well as the damage untreated roads and displaced trees and branches cause.

“Since the start of 2024, we have operated approximately 96% of our scheduled mileage of over 700,000 miles across Angus.

“The vast majority of disruption is on the day due to vehicle issues, traffic congestion and other disruption.

“This is communicated as quickly as possible via live journey times on the Stagecoach Bus App and on X.

“Any specific complaints regarding drivers not stopping for passengers will be investigated with the appropriate action taken.”