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‘We could lose our jobs’: Commuters slam bus firm as Peterhead services ‘hit rock-bottom’

One passenger said they have been forced to stay in hotels near Aberdeen hospital for fear of missing appointments due to unreliable buses.


North-east commuters have hit out at Stagecoach Bluebird for failing to meet their needs as four in five people say services have hit rock bottom.

Peterhead residents claim bus services are “horrendously unreliable” leaving many searching for alternative transport.

Delays and cancellations have left people at risk of “losing their jobs or education placements”, with some forced to fork out for overnight hotel stays to attend crucial hospital appointments at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

During a fortnight-long survey, held by MSP Karen Adam, 1144 people spoke out about the harsh realities facing commuters across the north-east coast

Of those who took part, 88.46% of people felt the service had deteriorated over the last 12 months, compared to 9% who encountered no change.

79.55% of people said the firm had failed to meet their needs, with 42% of people relying on transport links to commute to work.

Commuters forced to book hotels to make hospital appointments

When asked about the reliability of bus services, 36.98% of respondents said they were very dissatisfied, with a further 36.63% dissatisfied with their performance.

One in five respondents claimed to use the service five days a week, with X68, 35/X35, and X63 routes being the most used.

Meanwhile, 67.22% of respondents felt transport services failed to meet the community’s needs, particularly in providing disabled access, compared to just 10.93%.

Participants in the survey stressed ‘People would use the buses more if they were more frequent and user-friendly’.

Stagecoach X63 bus.
Peterhead residents say bus services for rural communities are “horrendously unreliable.” Image: Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson.

In February alone, residents reported at least 12 instances of buses being late or not turning up.

Cindy Summers, who has lived in Peterhead all her life, says she has “never seen such a decline” in her local bus service.

As Cindy does not drive, public transport is her only means of travel, which is why she relies on her local bus service daily.

She told the Press & Journal that the service from Peterhead to Aberdeen has deteriorated so much that she and her friends are forced to book overnight stays in hotels so they don’t miss vital hospital appointments.

“As some of my Facebook friends are doing, I book a hotel the night before vital appointments at ARI or Woodend Hospitals because of the worry and stress of buses not turning up,” she said.

Rural commuters feel they are ‘not a priority’

According to the 57-year-old, she and her friends have had to do this since last year as she has “so many issues with Stagecoach.”

She’s not the only resident experiencing difficulties on the route, with fellow commuters furious over the lack of reliable connections for rural communities.

Another resident, who wishes to stay unnamed said: “For those of us in the rural communities, there is no reliable service to Aberdeen.

“This means no reliable travel to hospital appointments, to school and university for younger people, or work for the rest of us.

“It’s terrible for the area, but as is always the case, we won’t be a priority because we aren’t in the central belt.”

Heartbroken by the realities facing her constituents, Mrs Adam is calling for an urgent meeting with Stagecoach bosses to address their concerns.

Yellow double decker bus, Stagecoach Service X68, on Hanover Street, Fraserburgh at the bus station.
In a recent survey carried out by MSP Karen Adam, 88.46% of respondents felt bus service had deteriorated over the last 12 months. Image: Darrell Benns/ DC Thomson.

Speaking to The Press and Journal, she said: “Some of the stories, both gathered in the survey and at my public meeting, were truly heartbreaking. One constituent told me of having to carry their disabled child up the stairs of the bus because there was insufficient wheelchair space.

“Others have told me that they are at risk of losing their jobs or education placements as a result of unreliable bus services leading them to be late or to miss work or school. Many have missed NHS appointments as a result of irregular services, and some have even had to stay overnight near hospitals in order to make appointments.

“It is very disappointing that representatives from Stagecoach were unable to attend my public meeting to hear directly from constituents. I have demanded an urgent meeting to put the concerns of my constituents to them.”

Stagecoach bosses say they are “disappointed by the figures” but stressed they are doing all they can to improve services.

A meeting has been scheduled for next month to discuss the findings in more detail.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Stagecoach North Scotland said: “We are disappointed with these findings and does not represent the level of service we aim to operate across the region.

“Due to business commitments, Stagecoach representatives were unable to attend an earlier meeting requested by Karen Adams MSP, this has been rescheduled for 17th April 2024.

“Since this research was conducted, we have already seen an improvement in reliability of our services which has mostly been impacted by adverse weather conditions, one of which was a red weather warning and caused extreme disruption.

“We are also looking to introduce new timetables in the coming months which will improve services with better frequencies. We will inform customers via social media and our website when these plans are ready to be put in place.

“We’d like to reassure our customers that we are doing all we can to improve the service they receive and are taking these findings extremely seriously.”

Has the new X69 bus improved journeys between Peterhead and Fraserburgh? I find out