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First Aberdeen confirms it will axe its 8/8A and X27 services

A Number 8 bus travelling through the Dubford area of Aberdeen. Image: Steve Hulse.
A Number 8 bus travelling through the Dubford area of Aberdeen. Image: Steve Hulse.

First Aberdeen has confirmed it will be stopping its Number 8/8A and X27 bus services within weeks, despite community and business concerns.

Last month, First Bus launched a consultation asking for the public’s feedback on its plans to stop the services 8/8A, which take passengers from the Dubford area to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and the city centre.

It was also looking for feedback regarding its plans to cut the X27 bus, which travels between the city centre and Dyce, and also goes past the Kirkhill industrial estate and the airport.

Fears were raised about the impact such a decision would have on pupils, NHS staff, pensioners and the Kirkhill-based brewery Fierce Beer.

But First Aberdeen has today confirmed the services will stop running from Sunday, December 11. 

However, the bus operator said it has made some changes to its initial plans following its public consultation in order to address some of the concerns raised.

Why has First Aberdeen cut these routes, and how does it plan to address fears?

First Aberdeen said it intended to ditch the three services after it reviewed each of its routes and how many passengers were using them.

It found that both routes had fewer people travelling on them than pre-pandemic levels, and argued that they aren’t viable to run.

A spokesman for First said they had more than 500 responses to their consultation, “which were all taken on board and allowed us to identify key issues that would arise from the removal of these services”.

Last month, Fierce Beer said it was worried about how its staff would get to and from its brewery at Howe Moss Terrace at the Kirkhill industrial estate without the X27 , and raised questions about how customers would be able to travel to its planned taproom.

A map of the First Bus service X27. Image: DC Thomson.

And the Buses for Dubford campaign group said the loss of the 8/8A services would make life difficult for NHS staff wanting to get to ARI, and pupils wanting to travel to Oldmachar Academy.

It also raised the issue of pensioners needing to get about during the dark winter months.

A map of the First Bus services 8 and 8A. Image: DC Thomson.

The First Aberdeen spokesman said: “We are protecting trips to and from Kirkhill Business Park at peak times to ensure there remains continued access for workers.

“We will also be providing a specialised school service to Oldmachar Academy to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged by the removal of these services.

“Aberdeen Royal Infirmary continues to be service by services 3, 3A and 3B“.

He explained the decision from First to cut the services was “not a move that was made lightly”.

The spokesman added: “However, following the end of Scottish Government funding for the bus industry as passenger numbers continue their recovery following the pandemic, a difficult decision had to be taken regarding these routes which have not covered their operating costs for a considerable period of time.”

What do Fierce Beer and the Dubford community think?

Left to right: David McHardy, Operations Director and Dave Grant, Managing Director Fierce Beer. Image: DC Thomson.

For Kirkhill industrial estate, First Aberdeen said there will be an extension of the current 17 route during peak times, which will be called the 17k that will go to the business park.

And for Oldmachar Academy, the number 32 will be utilised as a school run service to loop around areas of the Bridge of Don that are currently served by the 8/8A, namely Dubford and Danestone.

Dave Grant, managing director of Fierce Beer, said he’s pleased that his company’s “primary concern” has been addressed.

He said: “This is still a good thing.

“It’s understandable that they will only run in peak times, and if this helps our team travel to and from the brewery than that is a great outcome, and was our primary concern.

“Let’s see what the actual result means in terms of times and frequency, but this is a positive outcome nonetheless.”

21 bus stops won’t have any bus links after cuts, says campaigner

First Bus Service Number 8, pictured on Westburn Drive in 2016.

Steve Hulse, who organises the Buses for Dubford campaign group, said he is “deeply disappointed but not surprised to hear that First Aberdeen have gone ahead with the proposals to cancel services 8/8A“.

He continued: “Whilst the introduction of a school bus service to Oldmachar Academy mitigates the risk to children’s safety in these dark mornings, it does nothing for the elderly and those less mobile who will have great distances to walk to get a bus now, for many these distances will be too far.

“To put it in perspective, 21 bus stops in either direction will no longer have any bus links from December.”

Steve said he believes the impact of cut services to the Dubford area will be on a “much bigger scale” than service cuts which First carried out that impacted the Footdee community earlier this year.

Last month, First confirmed it would be returning bus services to Footdee, known better as Fittie, on a trial basis. 

Steve added: “Whilst passenger numbers have dropped in recent months, we believe the problems have been as a result of the poor performance of service with buses being cancelled last minute, making passengers late for appointments at ARI.

“Coupled with the strange decision not to reroute service back on to Union Street when it reopened unlike other First services, it’s been very hard for passengers to use this service.”

“We are confident with a few tweaks to other routes, the bus links that the offered could be retained at no cost to First, and we are frustrated that First have so far refused to discuss our proposals with them.”

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