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Can Jeanetta get back on Dundee’s ‘Blether Bus’ after council slashes community service?

Jeanetta Black and the Blether Bus.
Jeanetta Black and the Blether Bus.

Jeanetta Black has been campaigning for better public transport for her and her Dundee West End friends.

Dundee City Council (DCC) recently cancelled her ‘Blether Bus’ to save money.

The service helped elderly, often frail, passengers in the city who found it difficult to reach their nearest bus stop.

Councillors agreed the local authority could no longer afford to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds subsidising “socially necessary but commercially uneconomic” bus services.

Jeanetta and her husband Harry live in Newhall Gardens.

The couple now face walking a potentially treacherous steep incline to reach Perth Road — their nearest bus route.

“Getting up the brae is the hardest thing,” she said.

“It’s not just me. There are people living here who are even older and have heart stents and things like that.”

With local elections fast approaching — what can Jeanetta do next?

What support did the Blether Bus offer?

While Jeanetta said the Blether Bus wasn’t perfect it helped many in her community access essential medical treatment.

“It would at least take you places where you could then easily get a bus into town or Ninewells, even if it didn’t directly take you where you needed to go.”

Jeanetta Black with Blether Bus paraphernalia.
Jeanetta Black with Blether Bus paraphernalia.

The retired nurse said: “But now we have to get a taxi when we have appointments at Ninewells.”

The service ran in the West End, Clepington and Lochee.

Is such a service too expensive for a local authority to run?

The Blether Bus was initially taken off the roads during lockdown. The council said at the time the removal was only a temporary measure.

DCC eventually blamed low passenger numbers and costs when finally cutting the service.

The Blether Bus previously served communities who struggle to access public transport in Dundee.

But the service did not need to be as expensive as it was, Jeanetta claimed.

She cites a public meeting set up by the council which saw lots of people say they’d like the bus to stop near them, but then were nowhere to be seen when the Blether Bus actually ran.

Jeanetta said: “Why say you want something but then never use it?

“It was well used by people in Newhall Gardens.

“There were people here who relied on it.”

What other options are available?

Bringing back the Blether Bus, or something akin to it, has been a passion project for Dundee West End councillor Fraser Macpherson.

He almost saved it from the axe at a council meeting last year.

When councillors voted on the service, the Liberal Democrat councillor moved to keep the service.

But Fraser’s intervention was narrowly defeated, sealing the fate of the service.

Councillor Fraser Macpherson
Fraser Macpherson regularly campaigns for better bus services in Dundee.

But he remains undeterred.

At a more recent council meeting he put forward a motion urging officers to bring back the Blether Bus to Dundee by exploring partnerships with the third or private sector.

That motion passed unanimously. A report on the findings is expected by the end of summer.

Fraser said: “We have elderly people off the beaten track and we need to ensure there is better engagement going forward.”

‘Real demand’ for service

David Kelly is director of the Community Transport Association in Scotland.

He hears from communities “every day” whose transport needs are unmet.

“There is real demand for these kinds of services in Dundee,” he said.

David Kelly
David Kelly speaking at an event in Edinburgh.

However, David fears working with commercial enterprises is not the way to go.

“We believe that working in partnership with local charities and community groups to deliver accessible services is more cost effective.

“It delivers better outcomes and represents a better option rather than turning to the private sector.”


David and his colleagues say they are working with DCC on “growing” community transport links in the city.

We have approached the council for comment.

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