Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 12:47 UK

End of road for remote post buses


Royal Mail confirms that it is to withdraw five post bus services in the Highlands from Friday

Five post bus services in the Highlands will run for the last time on Friday.

Those affected are Diabaig-Achnasheen, Applecross-Torridon and Torridon-Strathcarron in Wester Ross.

Royal Mail, which runs the post buses, will also cease operating the far north routes of Thurso-Tongue and Bettyhill-Thurso.

Highland Council-funded bus services could replace them. Officers have been asked to arrange interim measures to provide public transport.

Communities on the routes will also be consulted on long-term solutions. The local authority had subsidised the post buses.

Older people

It was previously thought the services would end on Thursday, but Royal Mail confirmed that Friday was the last day.

Royal Mail has previously said it was first and foremost a postal operator, not a transport company, and its first priority was the collection and delivery of mail.

Low numbers of passengers, lack of funding and smaller amounts of mail carried on the buses have been cited as reasons for the ending of the services.

Helen Murchison, chairwoman of Lochcarron Community Council, said the cuts would particularly disadvantage older people and those who did not have access to transport in a remote part of the country.

She urged Royal Mail to think again about axing the routes.

Last month, a report to Highland Council's transport, environment and community services committee, showed the local authority paid a total subsidy of £12,871 for the five services.

Royal Mail had requested £35,300 - an increase of £22,429 - to cover 2009-10, but now plans to stop running the buses from 16 April.

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