We’re with those who are calling for improvements following Stagecoaches’ cancellation at the end of May of a bus service between Ardersier and Nairn.
The evidence we found when we surveyed people around Nairnshire last year was that Ardersier and the other outlying areas are notably less well served by bus and dial-a-bus than the rest of us….not that any of us have lots to chose from.
We think that organising an alternative bus service using the community transport association mini-buses would make a difference, and from what we’ve understood, it’s feasible with volunteer drivers. But the survey also made it clear that bus services and dial-a-bus are not the whole answer. Lots of people prefer the bus, but they’ve also made it very clear that the services provided simply don’t offer the flexibility that they need. Even if a service is available, for 11% of our survey respondents they aren’t available for them to complete their return journey. Buses run at set times over fixed routes. There’s only one Dial-a-bus and its availability is restricted by things like the school run or staff break-times. The Community Transport Association mini-buses are designed for use by local community groups and are well-used, but while they may be suitable for a bus route they don’t provide the flexibility of a car or taxi.
What’s needed for Nairnshire and neighbouring Ardersier is a flexible range of services that INCLUDE buses and dial-a-bus, doesn’t undermine local taxi businesses, but also fills the gaps these services can’t fill. We think what’s needed is LOCAL co-ordination, to help people and service providers to maximise the use of existing services but also to manage a voluntary car service. This isn’t a new idea: there’s a highly successful scheme in Badenoch & Strathspey and others in Inverness and the Black Isle.
We’ve been on the hunt for a partner to work with us in setting this up. Drop us a line if you can think of one we could approach…