Council cancels eight duplicated bus contracts following review
West Lothian Council has carried out a review of the local bus network following significant changes to commercial bus services.
The local bus network is provided through a combination of commercial services (80% of the network) and council subsidised services (20%).
Large scale changes to the commercial bus network in West Lothian has taken place in recent years including First Bus revising its service and Lothian Country extended their service. As a result, commercial services are now serving local communities differently. This has resulted in a number of route and timetable overlaps between the commercial and subsidised network. Whilst there is potential for further commercial changes, the level of overlap is such that the council was legally required to adjust its subsidised services to ensure that they are not in direct competition with the commercial market and that public funding is being well spent.
A review has been carried out and the council has identified the required charges and a revised subsidised local bus service. The council currently subsidises 28 contracts. The review highlighted that there are 8 contracts which are currently duplicated by commercial services.
The Council Executive today (Tuesday) agreed to remove these 8 contracts due to their duplication and has agreed to serve cancellation notices on these contracts which will mean they will stop from the end of September.
The removal of 8 subsidised services will save the council approximately £300,000 annually.
Executive councillor for Development and Transport, Cathy Muldoon, said:
"The majority of bus routes in West Lothian are commercially operated and when they change it can impact upon the linkages and overlaps between subsidised routes. Funding for subsidised bus services is limited and it's right that we carry out a review to ensure that breaks and overlaps in services are identified and that subsidised routes operate as efficiently as possible.
"The council must ensure that public money is spent as efficiently as possible in all areas and that includes subsidised bus networks."
She added: "The council spends over £8million each year on public transport including mainstream school transport and additional support needs transport. Like all areas of the council, the amount of money that we have to spend on local services is reducing. It's only right that we carry out a review into local subsidised bus services and make changes where services overlap with commercial services already in place. Whilst not everyone will be happy with the changes, the council will have delivered savings of over £156.9 million between 2007/08 and 2022/23 largely as a result of Scottish Government funding constraints. It's impossible for the council to continue to provide the same level of services with the levels of budget reductions that we face."
The Council Executive has also approved one off additional funding of £100,000 to extend the Local Bus Time Limited Funding Services. The additional hours of operations for these services will now end of 30 September. They are: Linlithgow Town Service (LBS 1), Bathgate Town Service (LBS 5), Armadale Town Service (LBS 6), Livingston - Bathgate via Linlithgow (LBS 31). The main routes and hours of operation will continue to be subsidised by the council.
|Route description||Identified duplication||Duplicated service||Approx difference in timetable|
|LBS 20||Bathgate - Broxburn/Edinburgh||Entire duplication|
|5 - 15 mins|
|LBS 22E||Whitburn - Edinburgh||Entire duplication|
|1 - 20 mins|
|LBS 11-12||Livingston - Bathgate||Significant duplication|
|1 - 5 mins|
|LBS 20E||Bathgate - Broxburn|
|5 - 15 mins|
Livingston - Edinburgh
|1 - 10 mins|
|Whitburn - Harthill||Significant duplication|
|5 - 10 mins|
|Oakbank - Birniehill||Significant duplication|
|1 - 5 mins|
|Whitburn - Livingston||Significant duplication|
LC287 - LC275
|1 - 10 mins|
*LBS - Local Bus Service