The Fife Bus service is being rolled out across the region after funding was “magically” found for the scheme.
The free door-to-door service for people who, because of disability or other reasons, are unable to use public transport was previously a postcode lottery.
Earlier this year, Fife Council considered the option of funding the expansion of the service by scrapping concessionary rail travel.
But the controversial move was blocked and it was decided to find the cash from elsewhere.
Last week, councillors agreed to press ahead with a “more equitable demand responsive” bus service after a funding solution was found.
Finance director Eileen Rowand said a review of spending on employees’ pensions had freed up cash.
The council will now invest £240,000 on four new fleet vehicles.
In addition, the service will cost £101,000 to run this financial year and £371,000 next year.
Questions over Fife Bus service funding
But Conservative councillor Dave Dempsey questioned how the money had arrived “magically”.
He said: “If this report hadn’t been in existence we wouldn’t have known anything about it.
Money sort of emerges. It doesn’t feel right.”
Councillor Dave Dempsey
“When money emerges like this, who gets told? How much more is there from this? Are there other bits of money floating around?
“In February we set budgets in considerable detail yet money sort of emerges. It doesn’t feel right.”
Ms Rowand said she had to make assumptions about projected expenditure.
“In relation to pay and pensions, we had assumed a level of funding would be required,” she told Mr Dempsey.
“We don’t change these assumptions until the next budget report. I would then update my assumptions and it would be transparent to the members at that stage.”
Ms Rowand said the council had made additional funds available for potential increases in benefits or a change in employers’ contribution rates.
She added: “It’s quite apparent that risk no longer applies. This has happened after the budget.”
‘Best use of council resources’
Before the pandemic, the council’s Fife Bus scheme operated a flexible, on-demand Ring and Ride Service and a Dial a Ride Service operating at fixed times and locations.
Dial a Ride has since been phased out in favour of the door-to-door Ring and Ride.
However, Ring and Ride was previously only available in Dunfermline, Glenrothes, Kirkcaldy and Leven.
Senior transportation manager Derek Crowe described the expansion of Ring and Ride as the “best use of the council’s resources”.
Travel within zones
He added that journeys would be possible within 18 zones across Fife.
“The primary objective is to provide a service within the zone. It’s not to travel from, for example, Tayport to Dunfermline or Kincardine,” said Mr Crowe.
“We couldn’t resource that.”
Speaking as convener of the Policy and Co-ordination Committee, the council’s Labour leader, David Ross, said the financing of the scheme “would have been quite transparent in the next budget report to members”.
He added: “At the last meeting, we asked for a financial solution to this particular problem and Eileen has come up with one.
“That is what we expect from our officers, to be flexible and to meet our policy directions. I don’t think it’s something we need to be overly concerned about.”