Fresh calls have been made for publicly-funded bus routes to be rolled out across Moray to protect lifeline links after it emerged the only current service nets the council a “phenomenal” profit.
Loss-making connections across the region were withdrawn by Stagecoach earlier this year.
At the time locals demanded Moray Council step in and run vehicles for passengers to fill the gap.
However, the authority refused to get involved due to its precarious financial position.
Now figures published by the council show its only bus route, which runs from Elgin to Garmouth and Kingston, generated a profit of nearly £22,000 during the last year.
Last night, calls were made to roll out vehicles to other routes in an attempt to generate income to fund other vital services.
Opposition councillor Aaron McLean has been leading the SNP group’s drive to form a council-run bus service.
He said: “This is the type of model that we have been proposing to be rolled out to other areas.
“I think £21,500 is a phenomenal amount of money to be made from the Garmouth to Elgin route.
“If we had a number of these running through Moray, serving different communities, then it could generate much-needed income and connect people to lifeline services like health centres and chemists.
“There must be other areas in Moray where we can use existing driver resources to run a route.”
Between April last year and June this year an average of 1,380 customers a month used the Elgin to Kingston link, which also serves Lhanbryde and Urquhart.
Five return journeys a day are operated on the route from Monday to Friday.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has previously called on the council to consider subsidising routes currently run by Stagecoach to guarantee their future.
The authority currently has a black hole of at least £15million in its budget for next year.
Findhorn and Kinloss community councillor Mo Hyde spearheaded a campaign to protect links from the villages to Forres earlier this year.
Stagecoach has warned that services not generating a profit will be at risk of being pulled.
Despite the transport giant stepping back from pulling the service entirely, direct links to Elgin were lost.
An annual review of the Elgin to Kingston link will be discussed by the council’s economic development committee tomorrow (TUES).
The authority stepped in to operate the service from March last year after Stagecoach pulled out of the area.
In a report, public transport manager Donald MacRae explained using existing vehicle and driver resources allowed the route to be run at a minimal cost with the availability of money from housing developers adding to the profitability of it.
He said: “In providing the service, the council is demonstrating a commitment to maintaining transport links to isolated communities and the uptake within these communities indicates both the need and the appreciation of the service.
“Favourable feedback has been received on the helpfulness and friendly approach of the regular drivers used on the service.”