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Anger grows over plans to axe ‘lifeline’ Fife bus routes

Changes to some bus routes have proved very unpopular.
Changes to some bus routes have proved very unpopular.

Almost 700 people have objected to plans to axe a “lifeline” bus service which would leave villages without access to public transport.

Some 674 people have written to Stagecoach East Scotland opposing the withdrawal of the 23 service from St Andrews to Stirling.

The bus passes through a number of communities, which rely on it to access work, education or health services.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell said people in rural areas were paying the price of Stagecoach’s “penny pinching”.

Meanwhile, people in west Fife villages say they are distraught at the loss of the number six service, the only one linking them to the centre of Dunfermline.

Charlestown resident Edwin Glennie said he relied on it to access hospital appointments with wife Sarah, who has multiple sclerosis.

Stagecoach said both services had been operating at a significant loss and were no longer commercially viable.

Mr Ruskell claimed withdrawing the number 23 would sever one of the only public transport connections between St Andrews and Stirling.

He claimed Stagecoach was using the covid-19 crisis as an excuse to cut the service.

“The 23 is a lifeline route and Stagecoach’s decision to abandon it will leave people in places like Gateside without any public transport at all.

“More than ever rural communities need reliable, good quality public transport and they can’t be left to pay the price of Stagecoach’s penny pinching.”

Conservative MSP Liz Smith urged the company to think very carefully before withdrawing the route.

“There is clearly extremely strong feeling amongst the local communities the length and breadth of the 23 bus route,” she said.

Mr Glennie, backed by SNP MSP Douglas Chapman and Councillor Sharon Green-Wilson, urged the company to put people before profit.

A Stagecoach spokesperson said closing a route was never an easy decision.

Regarding service 23, they said: “This service runs through four different local authorities with a choice of different services to replace the 23.

“This means customers can use alternative services and operators for the same journey, some of which are of a much higher frequency.”

On service six, they said: “We have trialled initiatives with the local community in recent years such as using smaller buses and revising the route but unfortunately this did not achieve any growth in passenger numbers. “

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