Aberdeenshire Council is proposing changes to the 257 & 258 bus services in Turriff. Under the proposals, Stagecoach would no longer run the bus services during the day, seeing them replaced with an A2B dial a bus service.
According to information provided by Aberdeenshire Council this week, the Council is a partner in an EU-Funded project, known as G-PaTRA, seeking solutions to rural transport needs whilst giving consideration to vehicle emissions involved. Funding has been secured for a pilot project in the Turriff area.
The pilot project seeks to use the Turriff area to: find a method of identifying residents’ need for transport; trial a new way of replacing a fixed route bus service with a demand responsive service; and, in doing so, provide a more sustainable transport service.
The Council supported Stagecoach Bluebird Turriff Town & Circular Service (257/258) will be replaced with a Council operated minibus service from Monday 19 November. The majority of passengers are currently bus pass holders who travel free. When the new Council service starts the bus will be free to everyone.
Proposed Type of Service
Stagecoach Bluebird operate a local bus service open to the general public that is registered with the Scottish Traffic Commissioner. The timetable and route of such services cannot be altered at short notice. The timetable is advertised via Traveline Scotland and at bus stops.
The Council minibus is able to operate under a Section 19 Permit and therefore the service is not registered with the Scottish Traffic Commissioner meaning that the timetable (or indicative times) and route (or indicative route) can be changed at short notice. Passengers are treated as “members” of the bus service and are advised of any bus service changes by phone/letter and notices on the bus etc. It is proposed that all passenger trips are pre-booked, allowing the service to be more tailored to passenger requests and precluding the need to operate the vehicle when no one wants to travel.
Stagecoach Bluebird operates a 27-seat low-floor minibus (wheelchair accessible). This will be replaced with a wheelchair-accessible Council minibus, liveried as A2B dial-a-bus, which can seat up to 12 passengers. This bus will be augmented by the Council minibus that already operates the Turriff A2B dial-a-bus service between 0930 and 1445 hours on Mondays to Fridays.
Operating Days and Times
The service will continue to operate on Mondays to Saturdays during approximately the same operating times. Stagecoach will continue to operate the schooldays only journeys to/from Turriff Academy. The following journeys, which are not contracted by the Council, will not be covered: 0635 hours ex New Byth (Mon-Fri), 0712 hours ex New Byth (Mon-Fri), and 0835 hours ex Turriff (schooldays only).
Turriff Circular (Service 258)
Mondays to Fridays
It is proposed to offer the following workers journeys as per the existing clockwise route via Cuminestown, Garmond, New Byth, Crudie Crossroads and Fintry:
0740 hours on non-schooldays (with Stagecoach operating on schooldays); and
1700 hours on Mon to Fri – please note that this journey currently departs at 1730 hours but it is proposed that it operate 30 minutes earlier based on known demand.
The route may vary depending upon bookings. For example, if no-one wants to travel to/from Crudie on a particular day the bus will not go into Crudie that day. The afore-mentioned journeys will be operated by a new Council minibus.
It is proposed to use the existing Turriff A2B dial-a-bus minibus to operate shopper-type journeys in the inter-peak on Mondays to Fridays. An indicative timetable will be offered, which will incorporate journeys made on the existing Turriff A2B service. The actual bus times will vary depending upon the number and location of passenger journeys. Passengers will be offered travel times and they may choose to be picked up from their homes and returned there or they can board/alight at the existing bus route. Passengers will be provided with an estimated pick-up time when they book.
The passengers who currently use the existing inter-peak Turriff A2B will be contacted direct to advise them of the proposals.
It is proposed to use the new minibus to operate the existing Saturday service. It will initially operate as per the current route and timetable, subject to passenger bookings. Following the introduction of the service the passenger requests will be monitored and the service will be reviewed to ascertain whether improvements can be introduced.
Turriff Town (Service 257)
The current route is shown on the Turriff Public Transport Guide: https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/22864/turriff-public-transport-guides.pdf. Most passengers are picked up on a “hail and ride” basis rather than at physical bus stops.
For the new service, it is proposed to initially advertise a more basic route along main roads with the bus diverting off this route based on passenger requests. Passengers may ask to be picked up from their homes and returned there, which will be done if time allows, or they can board/alight at their normal bus stopping place. Passengers will be provided with an estimated pick-up time when they book.
Initially journey times on the town service will be very similar to existing Monday to Saturday times except for the 1655 hours journey on Monday to Friday which it is proposed to operate earlier, in order to accommodate a requested re-timing of the 1730 hours bus to Cuminestown.
It is anticipated that the Turriff Town A2B service will evolve over time to try to best meet the needs of passengers within the times that the bus is available. Over time the service may become fully door-to-door.
In advance of the service starting all existing Service 257/8 passengers will be encouraged to become members of A2B – this involves a short phone-call.
A2B passengers book to travel by phoning the A2B dial-a-bus office on 01467 535333. We may also be able to take requests by email. Bookings can be made up to one week before travel or two weeks in advance if attending a medical appointment. Requests for “same-day” transport will be considered but passengers will need to phone at least one hour before their travel time.
Bookings for the new service can be made from Monday 12th November (or from 5th November for trips to medical appointments).
Queries, Comments and Suggestions
The Council is seeking comments on the above proposals. If you have any suggestions or queries you may contact us by calling the A2B dial-a-bus coordinator on 01467 535213 or emailing A2Bdialabus@aberdeenshire.gov.uk.
If you have any views on these proposals, you have until 31 October to let the council know