Thursday, 26 May 2016

Caledonian Cut-backs Continue

And the Borders Too?
Whilst First Bus themselves were issuing a press release about closing depots and withdrawing from operation on East Lothian, The Borders press was adding to the gloom.
How much of this "proposal out for consultation" (a euphemism for "we're doing it anyway") is due to intrinsic poor financial performance in a rural area and how much due to the impact of the highly successful Borders railway line is not clear.
But the "proposals" are Draconian.
The current X95 is half hourly between Edinburgh and Galashiels, continuing hourly to Carlisle.
fbb is grateful to regular correspondent for forwarding this news.

Incidentally, the pull-out from East Lothian press release (yesterday's blog) invited readers to follow a web link to "see which services are affected".
fbb obediently did (yesterday afternoon) and it doesn't.

It still doesn't today.
All together now ...

"It's all available on-line!"

Except when it isn't.

But the full (or nearly full?) list has now appeared on line. fbb received a copy from First Bus and a second version from ever-helpful Gordon. in the list below, fbb has ignored occasional oddmens, school trips and college journeys. The chop is far wider that at first appeared; with changes listed by depot. ALL THE FOLLOWING ARE CANCELLED COMPLETELY 

 Bannockburn (Stirling) 

24   Stirling - Kilsyth  (hourly)
60   Alloa - Stirling - Stenhousemuir (every 30 min)

32   Stirling - Balfron (infrequent)
B8  Balfron - Glasgow (infrequent) 


X86 Falkirk - Glasgow (hourly)


18    Edinburgh Gyle (hourly)
108  Fort Kinnaird (Edinburgh) - Haddington (hourly)
X24 Edinburgh - North Berwick (every 30 min)
X6   Edinburgh - Dunbar (hourly)
X8   Edinburgh - Haddington (every 30 min)


73   Galashiel;s - Bannerfield (hourly)
75   with 76 & 77 : Hawick Town Service (every 20 min)
90A Peebles Town service (hourly)

In addition, some services have revised timetables, i.e. reduced. The 62/63 headlined in the pretty panel shown above is reduced to every 15 minutes and, and the X95 is covered above.
Nowhere in any newspaper article is the X62 mentiones, so we must presume that its half hourley service to Edinburgh remains.

This represents a major retreat by First. It reminds fbb of the early days of privatisation and competition. Some of the larger companies pulled back to their "successful" routes, leaving the oddments to be tendered by the local authority or to be covered by companies with lower costs.

Then smaller companies started looking for more business opportunities and began competing on the big boys' big-money routes.

Where operators were able to hold on to their complete network, the competitors tended to fizzle out. The failed attempt of Southern Vectis and Badgerline (as Badger Vectis) ...
... to dent to supremacy of Wilts and Dorset in Poole is well documented. The Wilts and Dorset strength was its network.

Is First risking its trunk routes by leaving the bits to others.

Time will tell.

 Next Crewkerne bus blog : Friday 27th May 


  1. Other examples in the past decade have been North Devon (Stagecoach & First - Stagecoach won), Worcester (Diamond & First - First won) and Burton-on-Trent (Midland Classic & Arriva - MC about to win).

    I think the moral is that it depends on who might pick up the work and on local circumstances. Time will indeed tell.

  2. What is available on-line is the company's accounts. For the year ending 28 March 2015, the directors' report includes the statement "the company's sales have decreased by 9.7% over the prior period. The operating loss for the period decreased from £2.3 million to £1.7 million...". As a stand alone business, FSE would have long gone under - however, it is effectively being kept going with a financial guarantee from the parent company.

  3. My reading of the X95 proposal "Revised to hourly between Edinburgh and Galashiels" is that there would be one bus an hour on the full route, with an additional bus each hour between Hawick and Galashiels. This would not be surprising, given competition with the train between Edinburgh and Galashiels and (in my experience) pretty good demand within the Borders. I might be wrong, though.

  4. A few points,

    No18 is Council contract which was up for re-tending this summer.

    60 Alloa - Stirling - Stenhousemuir (every 30 min) is EVERY 20MINS between Clackmanaman - Alloa - Stirling, then hourly to Stenhousemuir.

    62/63 is every 20mins across its full route but extra buses were added between Via Alva section.

    X95 will operate hourly Edinburgh - Halwick and Gala - Carlise.

    It must be made clear: FSE accounts only cover Muss and Livingston Depots.

    There is another set of accounts for "Midland Bluebird" covering Stirling, Falkirk and the Borders. Midland Bluebird side made a small profit the first in a while.