As two bus drivers are left facing redundancy this weekend, Regional Labour MSP David Stewart says he will continue campaigning to try to see the stricken route reinstated.
Deveron Coaches owner Albert Milne said his workers would have to find other jobs because he could not afford to keep his bus on the road, despite a frantic community effort to save the popular service.
Mr Milne is pulling his 28-seat bus off the circular 340/341 Elgin route tomorrow (Saturday 7th September) after a funding pot managed by Moray Council and supplied by a housing developer ran dry.
The cash-strapped council said it can no longer afford to fund external bus services.
The bus, which runs a circular route around the north and south of Elgin, links Bishopmill to the hospital and doctors.
Mr Stewart, who joined passengers on the bus last month to listen to their concerns, said: “My experience on the bus was this is much more than your ordinary everyday bus service. This is a community centre on wheels. Trying to find a way to get this route reinstated is a very important campaign and one I’m going to continue to fight. I’ve had positive discussions with Stagecoach chief executive David Liston and with the council’s chief executive Roddy Burns. I’ve also written to Robertson Homes as well as raising the issue with Transport Secretary Michael Matheson. It’s very sad to see the bus go off the route today but hopefully this is only temporary. I will continue to do everything I can to try to get funding support for a bus to operate on this route.”
Lead bus campaigner Sara Marsh said the bus had become “a little community” and was “one of the most positive things that have happened in Elgin in the last few years”.
Mr Milne said it was with a heavy heart that he was taking his bus off the route.
“The folk will be devastated next week,” he said.
“We’ve put a note on the windows thanking the clientele for their support over the years. The drivers are going to be made redundant. The council is going on about climate change and yet they’re taking people off the buses and making them go in their cars. It’s a bit back to front.”
A petition was set up to try to put pressure on the Scottish Government and Moray Council to step in with last-minute funding support to the tune of around £115,0 to keep the bus on the road for another year.
Mr Stewart passed the petition holding nearly 500 names to Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson and has held talks with Roddy Burns, the council’s chief executive.
Mrs Marsh said she sent a copy of her petition to Moray Council.