Council could launch own buses in Aberdeen amid anger over pulled city services

Corporation buses could return to the streets of Aberdeen to take on “monopoly” private-sector operators.

Grampian buses were a common sight for generations of Aberdonians, with their green and yellow livery a familiar welcome to the Granite City.

Now the city’s leading Labour group is to ask town house officers to investigate once more setting up a council-run company.

It’s understood that some of the authority’s hydrogen buses, which are currently leased to the private firms, could be used for the ambitious scheme.

Margaret Thatcher’s Transport Act of 1985 first opened the door to privatised and de-regulated services into British cities with Aberdeen’s First Bus buying out the Grampian Buses in 1989.

The move comes amid growing anger over the King Street-based transport giant withdrawing the X40 and 11 services from Kingswells leaving the suburb disconnected.

Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald and Kingswells councillors Steve Delaney and David Cameron voiced strong objections to the First withdrawal – saying the council should consider stepping in.

Mr Grant said: “Over the last five years we have seen bus operators within Aberdeen renege on running a bus service to certain communities such as Kingswells, the Bridge of Don and Airyhall to name but a few, all to the detriment of passengers who often rely upon a decent bus service to get to and from work.

“Many people have commented on how First Bus has a monopoly in this city and I am sure that if Aberdeen City Council is in a position to own and operate a bus company again one of the first things we would look at is the cost of bus fares.

“This successful operation in Edinburgh should give the citizens of Aberdeen the comfort that councils can run good public services and if the motion is approved I look forward to seeing the feasibility study from the chief executive in order to make this a reality.”

A town house source said: “For too long First have been acting like a bully, if there is a price war between (the council and First) then that can only be good for the citizens.”

But a spokesman for First Aberdeen said: “First is a company founded in Aberdeen, our bus operation is one of the city’s largest employers, we are a major contributor to the local economy and move more than 50,000 passengers a day.

“As a commercial operator, services have to be viable and where this is not the case local authorities can already use their powers to procure socially necessary services. At a time of increasing pressure on the public purse, this remains a cost effective option.”