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Plans by Stagecoach to merge the Georgetown and Lochvale bus services have been slammed as “bonkers” by Nith Ward Labour Councillors Colin Smyth and John Martinafter it was revealed that the merger of the service will mean buses travelling on the opposite side of the road to the existing bus stops.

Under the plans the existing No.3 Georgetown to Dumfries Town Centre service will be merged with the No.4 Lochvale to Dumfries Town Centre service to provide a combined No.4 Georgetown/Lochvale to Dumfries Town Centre bus.

The merger will mean a 20 minute frequency, compared to the 30 minute frequency of the existing two services it will mean a longer trip for passengers as the service has to travel all the way around both Georgetown and Lochvale.

It will also mean that Annan Road will be completely excluded from the new service and residents there will have to rely on the infrequent Dumfries to Annan bus if they wish to travel into Dumfries town centre.

The new timetable will come into effect from 2 December but local Nith Ward Labour Councillors Colin Smyth and John Martin are calling for a re-think by Stagecoach.

Councillor Colin Smyth, who is also Chair of the Council’s Planning, Housing and Environment Services Committee which deals with transport issues said, ”It is really bonkers that as a result of these changes imposed by Stagecoach we will have buses going down streets such as Georegtown Road and Calside Road on the opposite side of the road to the bus stops on those streets.  Although this is a commercial service run by Stagecoach and not the council, both the council and SWESTRANs have invested a lot of money on new bus stops in the area only to now find they are on the wrong side of the road because of these changes to the route being made by Stagecoach. Either we are going to have to expect the public to queue up on the wrong side of the road, flag down the bus then run across the road to get onto the bus or we are going to have to spend a fortune moving the bus stops to the opposite side. In some cases that isn’t practical because there is no space for the bus stop.  In future the council will need to think long and hard before it invests in improvements that are designed to help Stagecoach if the company are simply going to chop and change services in this way that render that investment a waste of money”

Fellow Nith Ward Labour Councillor John Martin hit out at the decision to cut Annan Road from the new service. John Martin said, “This merger is a deterioration in the service because Annan Road is now completely missed out. Residents there must think there is a vendetta against them because first they almost lost their Post Office and now they are losing their regular bus service. There are a lot of elderly residents in the area and they will now have to rely on the very infrequent Dumfries to Annan service, which at certain times of the day hardly runs. What angers me is that there has been no consultation by Stagecoach. They have just imposed this. No wonder fewer and fewer people in the region are using buses if the company make changes like this”.

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