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Perth carer unable to look after Errol woman after Stagecoach scraps bus service

Sharon Hoey is having to say goodbye to a vulnerable client after the 16 was cut from the timetable.

Sharon Hoey and a Stagecoach bus.
Sharon Hoey is unable to care for a woman in Errol due to a Stagecoach timetable change. Image: Sharon Hoey/Steve Brown/DC Thomson

A Perth carer has been left “devastated” at being unable to look after a vulnerable Errol resident due to the scrapping of a bus service.

Sharon Hoey has been supporting a woman with Huntington’s since October last year.

The 47-year-old doesn’t drive and relied on the number 16 Stagecoach bus to get to and from her client’s home in the Carse of Gowrie.

But a recent timetable change means the 16 has been replaced with the 39, which is effectively a reduction in service.

Stagecoach’s original plans would have seen the removal of all commercial bus services from the Carse of Gowrie, but a campaign of pressure from The Courier, residents and politicians saw the bus company roll back on the worst of the cuts.

Sharon – who is self-employed – told The Courier that she has had to cease caring for the woman, who is 55, as she can “no longer be relied on” to get there.

Perth carer unable to look after Carse client after bus timetable change

She said she was recently left waiting at a bus stop in Perth after the new 39 service failed to show up.

“Everything was fine until they changed the bus service,” she said.

“They cut the number 16, which I used to get to and from Errol. It has had a huge impact on the community.

“Recently I was at a bus stop waiting on the number 39 bus and it didn’t turn up.

“I had to call my cared-for person and tell her that I’m not going to make it out to her because the bus hadn’t came and had broken down in Dundee.

A Stagecoach bus.
Stagecoach has scrapped its number 16 service from Perth to Dundee. Image: DC Thomson

“It’s absolutely disgusting. People are missing their appointments at Ninewells because of this and being left stranded.

“The lady that I care for, I don’t want to leave her but because of the bus service I can’t be relied on to get there.

“The last thing I want is her daughter left panicking at work because I’ve not managed to make it out – it puts a lot of stress on her as well.”

The client’s daughter, who has not been named, added that she will now need to take time off work to care for her mum.

She said: “Having a carer is a lifeline that has been taken away because of Stagecoach.

“I waited a year to get a carer because of the lack of caring facilities to only have Sharon for seven months and now I am back to square one.

“This has caused an unbelievable amount of stress and will affect me financially.”

As part of the new timetable, Stagecoach has removed its X7 service between Perth and Dundee, as well as the 16.

An Errol mother also told of her frustration at the 39 after it failed to show up in time on Wednesday morning to take her children to school.

She said: “The only option my kids have is to get the 7.56am bus or quarter to 7.

“Even if the bus is five minutes later here, it makes them 25 minutes late to school.

“My daughter says it’s affecting her learning. It’s just a nightmare.”

‘Having a carer is a lifeline’

Sharon said the timetable change has had a financial impact as well as an emotional one.

“I can’t get to the person I’m meant to care for – it just shouldn’t be the case,” she continued.

“I spend £29.90 a week with a MegaRider which again is at a loss to me because I can’t use the bus service to get to Errol and also if it doesn’t turn up then I lose a wage because I am self-employed.

“I can’t charge a client if I can’t make it to them, so I am losing out on both with a bus ticket that isn’t serving the purpose and a wage for being unable to make it to a client.”

Sharon is now looking for someone to take over from her to care for her client as she can no longer fulfil the role.

She added: “It takes a lot of time to build up that relationship and trust with somebody.

“You can’t just have anyone working in that role.

“I don’t want to go – it’s a horrible situation.

“It’s devastating as it’s not just the person I care for.

“I see her daughter regularly and I’ve built up a relationship with her mother.

“You become quite involved and I now feel that it’s my responsibility to find somebody to look after her – it’s a worry.

“You feel like you’re abandoning them but you’re being forced to.”

‘Low demand’

A spokesperson for Stagecoach East Scotland said: “On Monday May 13, changes were made to services across Perth and Kinross.

“The majority of these changes were due to low demand in certain areas.

“Service 16 was replaced by service 39 which now runs between Errol and Perth via St Madoes every day, with a reduced frequency to reflect the lower level of usage we have experienced in this area.

“Onward journeys from Errol are now available to Invergowrie, Dundee and Arbroath.

“We would encourage those in the local area to plan their journey at, to see the most up-to-date journeys options available.”

What do you think of changes to the bus timetables? Should Stagecoach revert to the previous schedules? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.