Pensioners and disabled people across Fife have been left dismayed over a major reduction in the free bus service relied upon by many as their only means of transport.
Fife Council’s Ring-and-Ride service will stop operating on weekends after November 6, while Monday to Friday services will now only run until 5pm instead of traditionally until 10pm.
The lack of suitable drivers due to a combination of illness and holidays has been blamed for the change.
The changes are set to hit dozens of elderly and disabled passagers in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes, Levenmouth and Dunfermline, many who use the service on a daily basis.
Angela Hutchison, demand responsive service lead professional, said: “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of drivers off in the team due to illness, medical appointments and pre-approved holidays.
“This means that from 6 November we’ll be unable to run the Fife Bus Service at the weekend across Kirkcaldy, Levenmouth, Glenrothes and Dunfermline.
“This also means that we’re unable to run a service through to 10pm during the week.
“However, as we’re a demand led service, we re-prioritise our service based on when it’s in most demand, which is Monday to Friday, and as the service won’t be running at the weekend, there may be times we can run a service until 10pm but we’ll monitor this on a daily basis.
“This is just an interim measure and we hope to be fully operational again early next year.”
But some passengers have hit back at the council’s response saying there had been no prior warning about the service changes.
Others fear they will no longer be able go out at weeekends because of the costs of taxis.
“We are both pensioners, I’m 87 and my wife is wheelchair bound, we’ve relied on the service for several years to get to regular hospital appointments, for shopping amd getting about,” said David Brown from Dysart.
“With no Saturday bus service we’ll be forced to pay a £16 round trip taxi fare every time we want to go out, which is a big concern for us.
“It’s particularly disappointing because there has been no consultation or prior notice especially as the bus service has been a godsend allowing us to get out and about when needed.”
Mr Brown’s concerns were echoed by fellow pensioner Mrs Coen from Kirkcaldy who said she had relied on the service to get about for over 10 years.
“The news came from one of the drivers, there’s been no notification on the buses or when you telephone your booking in, it’s pretty poor show” said the 82-year-old.
“The service allowed me to go to church every week but now I’ll have to meet the cost of a taxi to continue that.
“Those who only have a basic pension will be hit by this the most.”