After hearing from a number of constituents experiencing severe problems due to changes to Stagecoach’s Number 23 bus service, which operates between Broomlands and Hunter Drive in Irvine, local MSP Ruth Maguire has written to the Chief executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Gordon Maclennan, to make him aware of the difficulties caused by these changes, query the rationale behind them, and ask whether more bus stops can be installed or old ones be reinstated.

The extremely busy route is a lifeline service in an area with a large percentage of elderly residents, many of whom have mobility issues, blind people with guide dogs, and mothers with toddlers or young children in prams.

As a result of previous changes in routes or bus operators, many former bus stops had already been removed, but were still being used informally – with customers were picked up and set down by drivers at places where the bus stops used to exist.

Recently, however, notices appeared on the buses stating that the practice of stopping at points with no official bus stops would be discontinued. Worst affected by this reduction, which came into effect from 7th April, are Paterson Avenue, Dickson Drive and Livingston Terrace – three of the longest streets in Irvine.

Residents have pointed out that lack of bus stops leaves the new route in contravention of Government regulations, which state that the distance between bus stops in a built-up residential area should not be more than 400 metres (just under 0.25 miles) apart – with research showing that the more this distance is exceeded, the fewer people use the bus.

Residents have also reported a visible drop in the number of passengers using the Number 23 bus, leading to fears that the lifeline service could be lost.

Commenting, Ruth said:

“The changes in service of the Number 23 bus are clearly having a negative impact on residents who rely on it, and risk leaving people faced with expensive taxi bills or dependent on family and friends to go about their daily lives.

It also risks exacerbating the problem of social isolation – already a major concern for the local health services.

I have been very concerned hearing from residents directly affected by these changes, and have written to the Chief Executive of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), Gordon Maclennan, to make him aware of the difficulties caused by these changes, query the rationale behind them, and ask whether the problems can be solved by installing more bus stops or reinstating old ones.”