Pensioners have been left confused, and have missed Covid booster appointments, after a bus route change in the city centre.
Union Terrace has been closed to all traffic for road works – forcing a number of buses to change route.
The road was closed on Monday, June 27, for Scottish Water to carry out essential road works, meaning Union Terrace is once again out of bounds to motorists.
As a result, a number of bus routes have been affected by the road closure, including the number 3 Mastrick to Cove service.
The service, run by First Bus, is the main one serving residents in Midstocket and Rosemount, connecting them to the city centre.
However, with Union Terrace closed, the bus has been forced to change route, taking residents down the B986 Denburn Road, a dual carriageway.
The next stop for residents is Guild Street, next to Union Square.
Bus users said they would have prefered a route that went via St Andrew Street and Broad Street, as it would bring them closer to the city centre. This was the route used when the service was previously diverted by works at Union Terrace Gardens.
Councillor Bill Cormie, who represents Rosemount and Midstocket, slammed the diverted route as “unacceptable” as elderly and disabled residents rely on the service to get them to the city centre.
‘A lot of people are very upset’
He explained that for some, the steep walk up Market Street to access banks and shops along Union Street and in the city centre is too much.
“There’s a lot of sheltered housing complexes in Rosemount,” he said. “They depend on the buses and they’ve had enough of Union Terrace already.
“The people getting off at Guild Street, have to go all the way up Market Street, which is quite a hill, in fact, a very steep hill for the disabled, infirm and elderly.
“A lot of people are very upset at how First has handled this – it’s no use to anyone what they’ve done.
“All the users of the number 3 have been let down by the way First has handled this.”
According to Mr Cormie, residents first knew of the diversion when they got on the bus, and were told by the driver the bus would not stop at Bridge Street.
This has led to confusion and people getting off at the wrong stops as a result.
‘Affected a lot of people’
The councillor has had at least 20 phone calls from residents regarding the changed bus route, with some even saying the diversion has caused them to miss their Covid booster appointments.
He said: “I’ve had four folk miss their fourth booster injection in the old John Lewis building due to this change of route.
“That’s elderly folk who just couldn’t get up from Guild Street to George Street in time, so they’ve got to go and change all their appointments, and Covid’s risen its ugly head again as well.
“It’s affected a lot of people changing the bus route.
“If they’re going to keep going down that dual carriageway, folk are telling me they’re going to find other means of transport. And that could possibly mean taxis when everybody is struggling for every penny they’ve got just now.”
‘Significant industry-wide driver shortages’
A spokesman for First Bus stressed this is a temporary diversion, due to the road resurfacing on Union Terrace.
He said: “We can confirm the number 3 service is currently temporarily re-routed due to ongoing road resurfacing works on Union Terrace. This is a short-term closure due to end on the July 25.
“The previous one-way closure of Union Terrace was for a much longer period of time which allowed the number 3 service to be re-routed via Broad Street, Union Street and Market Street with the addition of one extra bus per service.
“Unfortunately due to the significant industry-wide driver shortages we are currently facing, we do not currently have the capability to add extra buses over and above the current scheduled timetable.”
An Aberdeen City Council spokeswoman explained the road closure is for Scottish Water to carry out works.
She said: “The current road closure is for pre-work required for Scottish Water. This work is essential as the road would otherwise have to be closed permanently. We have notified the public of this closure for more than three months.”
Union Terrace is due to be reopened on Monday, July 25 with buses expected to return to normal services.