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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
'Unsustainable' city bus cutbacks
By Mona McAlinden
BBC Scotland news website

Bus stop
Fifty services will be reduced or cut in Glasgow next month
First Buses has come under fire from transport bosses over the company's cuts to services in Glasgow.

First announced that 50 bus routes in and around the city would being reduced or cut altogether from 2 July.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which runs transport services in the area, said the cuts were unsustainable and would mostly hit deprived areas.

First Buses said rising insurance and fuel costs had forced cuts to services which had "low" passenger numbers.

SPT, which has an annual budget of 3.6m to ensure communities across the west of Scotland have access to public transport, said the cuts to Glasgow bus services were an "ongoing problem".

Patronage on night services would have to increase generally by over 200% to cover our operating costs
Ronnie Park
First Buses

A spokesperson said: "It's a situation that concerns us because we only have a limited amount of money with which to plug the gaps and subsidise routes.

"It's now getting to a stage where it's not sustainable and clearly we need to look at the bus industry and work with it to come up with a solution.

"A lot of the areas affected are in deprived parts of Glasgow, areas where people would not necessarily have cars or the means to pay for a taxi."

Dr John McCormick, chair of the Scottish Association for Public Transport, also expressed concern over the cuts.

'Integrate services'

"I would have hoped the First Group would have been looking to integrate services rather than cutting bus services, particularly because they also have the rail franchise," he said.

"They could have run some of the shorter distance bus services to the nearest railway station so that people would still have some kind of service rather than just cutting whole routes.

"I think First should look again and see whether they could keep running some of these services and possibly still make some savings if they integrated local bus and rail services."

However, Ronnie Park, director of service delivery at First Buses, said: "We have taken the decision to reduce the number of journeys where passenger numbers are extremely low and fares collected simply do not cover even the basic cost of operation.

"This is particularly evident on night services, where the patronage would have to increase generally by over 200% to cover our operating costs.

"We are therefore reluctantly withdrawing our 24-hour night services, however we will continue to provide a revised night bus service on most routes, which will operate on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights."

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