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First Bus confirms cancellation of ‘lifeline’ Kinross X53 bus route

x53 fife kinross-shire
First Bus announce the suspension of the X53 bus in early January.

A “lifeline” bus service in Kinross-shire will be scrapped early next year, it has been confirmed.

First Bus has confirmed the X53 service between Stirling and Kinross will be terminated from January 10, despite calls to save it.

It has been confirmed Perth and Kinross Council plans to introduce a replacement service between Tillicoultry and Kinross but further details on this have not yet been released.

David Phillips, operations director for First Midland, has called on the Government to considering the relaxation of visa requirements that would ensure there are more available drivers amid a national shortage.

What is causing the shortage?

Since Brexit, European Union (EU) citizens who did not already live in the UK have been treated the same way as those from the rest of the world.

The new system for work visas in the UK is based on a point system relating to whether the person applying has already secured a job over a certain amount of pay.

First Bus operations director David Phillips.

David said the termination of the X53 service was caused by a lack of available staff despite calls for more drivers to come forward over the last few weeks to save the “essential” service.

David said the firm will continue to address their “driver establishment issue”, work closely with the Scottish Refugee Council on recruitment and ask the Government to treat bus drivers as “critical workers”.

Over 560 impacted constituents

Mark Ruskell, a Scottish Greens MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said the impact of losing the service will be “severe” but says it is not too late for the transport company to save the route.

Mr Ruskell says more than 560 of his constituents have written to First Bus to ask them to rethink the move while he also led a debate in the Scottish Parliament calling for better protections for rural bus services.

Locals have claimed also it will leave people “more isolated” with limited public transport options in the area.

x53 kinross-shire fife mark ruskell
Mark Ruskell has hit out at First Bus for the termination of the Kinross-shire service.

Mr Ruskell said: “Like other campaigners across Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Kinross, I am disappointed to hear that First Bus are going ahead with the cancellation of the X53 in January 2022.

“The impact of losing the X53 is severe.

“We’re talking about vulnerable people being further isolated from essential services, young people losing their independence, and people being forced to use private cars exactly at a time when we need to be reducing car kilometres.

‘Broken system’

“Perth and Kinross Council stepping in to provide a replacement route between Tillicoultry and Kinross is a faint silver lining. But it’s clear that we’re just papering over the cracks of a broken system.

“For too long, rural bus services have been particularly vulnerable to the boom and bust cycle of private bus operators. We need to change the way these services are run to ensure rural communities are no longer left behind.

“Right now, it’s not too late for First Bus to change their mind and save the X53. I urge First Bus to step up to the plate and give rural communities across Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Kinross the service they deserve.”

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