Auchtertool united against bus axe plans

The X26 is the last remaining bus service in Auchtertool
The X26 is the last remaining bus service in Auchtertool

A third of the adult population of Auchtertool left Stagecoach in no doubt about its anger and shock at plans to scrap the last remaining bus serving the village on Tuesday night.

Over 130 people crammed into the village hall for a public meeting arranged by local councillor Susan Leslie to let the bus company know how its proposal could affect the village, which is home to around 400 people.

The packed hall

The packed hall

Douglas Robertson, commercial director of Stagecoach East Scotland, heard heartfelt appeals from local businesses about the effect taking away the X26 service from Kirkcaldy to Glasgow, which currently goes through the village every hour, would have on staff getting to work, customers who couldn’t drive and visitors going to the nursing home to visit relatives.

And residents expressed their disbelief that the service, which is profitable, is even being considered in the Fife-wide review.

Mums and dads told of the social isolation removing the service would have on their children who regularly use the service not just to get to school and college, but for after school activities and social outings; and older people told how losing the bus for their shopping trips, doctor’s appointments and outings would leave them completely cut off.

Mr Robertson explained that the proposal was to re-route the service X26 to take the more profitable route currently operated by the X27 via Chapel Level and Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy.

People queue to get into the meeting

People queue to get into the meeting

He said there had been a steady decline in traditional town centres throughout Fife over a number of years, with shops such as Tesco in Kirkcaldy shutting which had a knock on effect for bus services and the number of people using them.

“We are now picking up only 14 people a day on average from the village going in both directions,” he said. “In comparison the route we are proposing via Victoria Hospital is currently picking up 250 people per day.”

When questioned on how the statistics were reached, Mr Robertson said they had been collected over a period between February and May and had been based on the number of people boarding the service in Auchtertool. He stressed that the plans had been nothing to do with Fife Council, with whom Stagecoach is conducting separate discussions as to possible alternative solutions for bus provision to the village.

Peter Mitchell of Clentrie Farm who runs Puddledub Pork said his employees relied on the bus to get to and from work.

“A lot of people here don’t drive and for me, like them, it was a lifeline to get in and out of the village,” he said.

Another woman said her children relied on the bus for work and could face losing their jobs, while Joyce Fox, owner the Tiel Restaurant said stopping the service would be “a complete nightmare” for her staff and customers.

The public consultation process runs until tomorrow (Friday) and people can still have their say online at www.stagecoachbus.com.