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The war veteran, the carer and the student: Meet the people with their lives on hold due to Stagecoach X7 bus cancellations

The X7 bus cancellations have been impacting communities all over the coast. Image: Carol Hutton and Heather Fowlie.
The X7 bus cancellations have been impacting communities all over the coast. Image: Carol Hutton and Heather Fowlie.

Three people who live along the east coast have been sharing their stories about how the troubled bus service has impacted their lives.

The X7 route connects Dundee and Aberdeen, travelling up the A92 coast road through Arbroath, Montrose, St Cyrus, Inverbervie and Stonehaven.

According to the timetable, one bus is scheduled every hour.

But locals claim there have been cancellations every day since the new timetable was rolled out earlier this month – with the morning service most often axed.

Stagecoach has been regularly posting the cancellations on their Twitter page, blaming staff shortages.

However, they usually post at around 3am, causing one woman to get up in the middle of the night and share it with families who do not have Twitter.

Others don’t realise the buses have been cancelled, and are left waiting at the bus stop for hours.

They have shared their stories.

Commuters are often left waiting at bus stops for buses that have already been cancelled. Image: Shutterstock.

The war veteran

Carol Hutton recently moved to Johnshaven, between Montrose and Stonehaven.

She used to live in the remote village of Strathdon in the Cairngorms where there was no bus service at all.

After turning 65, the ex-security and intelligence soldier was looking forward to free buses but quickly realised there “wasn’t any point” due to the unreliability.

It has become especially difficult to travel to Edinburgh to see her partner who has severe PTSD from his service as a Royal Marine.

Carol Hutton and her partner, who does not want to be named. Image: Carol Hutton.

He was also recently diagnosed with a brain injury, thought to be sustained from fighting in the Battle of Two Sisters during the Falklands War.

But his condition makes travelling on an unreliable bus service a big problem.

Ms Hutton said: “If he was to get stranded, it would not end well. It is not a pretty sight. It is very distressing for people around him.”

Due to his mental health issues, Ms Hutton has asked for his name not to be used.

Ms Hutton said she can also not travel to Edinburgh to see him due to a recent industrial accident that has damaged her knees.

Ms Hutton’s partner is one of the men in the photo taken after victory in the Falklands War. FalkImage: Carol Hutton.

“I would love to just hop on a bus, but if I get stranded with my walking stick, how will I get home?” she said.

Due to the distance, Ms Hutton’s partner has become increasingly isolated in Edinburgh as the couple are unable to see each other.

She says the apologies from Stagecoach “just doesn’t cut it.”

The carer

Bob Anderson, 55, has lived in Kinneff for 15 years. He works as a carer in Stonehaven, which is a 15-minute bus journey away.

But this month he has already missed out on seven days of work due to buses not turning up.

If he does not get to work, he does not get paid. So far this month he has lost between £350 and £400.

Bob Anderson is a carer, but travelling to work has become a nightmare.

He said: “I pay a monthly ticket costing £102, but it makes no difference if the buses don’t turn up.

“Care work is not the best-paid work, a lot of us don’t do it for the money, we do it because we like to care for people.

“But I struggle. I really do struggle some months.”

If the bus does not turn up at night he has to get a taxi home, which can cost £40. But he says he often only earns £50 for a five-hour shift, making work feel pointless.

He added “My boss is getting quite impatient. I might have to get alternative employment.”

The student

Kenny MacLeod’s 17-year-old daughter has been travelling from Kinneff to Aberdeen for college.

But he says transport has “just been an absolute nightmare”.

Mr MacLeod’s daughter is missing out on her education. Image: Kenny MacLeod.

She could not make it to college for two weeks and missed an assessment in the first week of October.

Since January, all under 22’s have had access to free bus travel after a Scottish Government launched a policy.

But if buses have been cancelled then expensive alternatives like trains, taxis and cars will be required by more young people along the east coast.

It is not just the X7 that has been experiencing problems, all across the area Stagecoach has been cancelling services.

What have politicians been saying?

Independent councillor Alison Evison and Conservative councillor Laurie Carnie from Aberdeenshire’s Mearns ward have arranged a meeting with Stagecoach East.

Mrs Evison said: “I will outline there the problems being caused, particularly by regular service cancellations.

“I am aware that Stagecoach is facing difficult challenges of its own, but by meeting together we will hopefully be able to identify some ways in which the bus service can better meet local need.”

Angus North and Mearns SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon and Scottish Conservative North East MSP Tess White have both pledged their support to those affected.

Stagecoach will be meeting with Aberdeenshire Councillors. Image: David Whittaker-Smith.

What does Stagecoach say?

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: “We apologise to those who have been affected by cancelled journeys. Travel information for any affected routes is shared on Twitter every morning, as quickly as we are able to do so.

“We are operating every journey that we possibly can with the resources that are currently available to us.

“Unfortunately due to factors outwith our control, there can be instances where services are cancelled or delayed. Customers are encouraged to contact our customer service team directly for further assistance if this occurs.”

Woman gets up at 4am to share Stagecoach’s daily X7 cancellations with families after teen girls stranded in the dark