Following a review of local bus services and competitive tendering process, Council Executive have approved proposals to significantly revise the bus services for the first time since 2016, after a three-year delay due to covid.
This will see the majority of the current 18 council-subsided services continue to operate, with some revisions. This includes maintaining the service 21 Blackridge to Armadale and continuing the funding for the 23 Greenrigg to Whitburn service put in place after commercial changes left Blackridge and Greenrigg without bus services.
Six services will no longer be provided from October 2023 and these are: Service 449 Bo'ness to Bathgate; Service 50 Boghall to Harthill; Service 7 Livingston to South Queensferry; Service 31S Bathgate to Linlithgow (Sundays only); and Service 8 Boghall to Bathgate. Funding for Service F45 Linlithgow to Bo'ness service, which is contracted by Falkirk Council, will also end at this time.
Bus fares will also rise for the first time since 2016 in line with rising costs, with an increase of between 10p and 30p per journey and a flat fare of £2 for town centre services. The majority of bus travellers use concessionary cards, so would not be affected.
Full details of all changes will be published on the council's website shortly, once the contract process has been concluded with the bus operators.
Executive councillor for the environment and sustainability Tom Conn said: "The West Lothian bus network has changed hugely since 2016, and the changes to our subsidised services reflect what is happening with commercial services across Scotland.
"Less bus users, increasing costs and driver shortages has led to West Lothian's commercial bus network being reduced significantly in recent years.
"The council has maintained funding for bus services despite a predicted £39 million budget gap over the next five years to keep our communities.
"However, we do not have the resources to backfill commercial service reductions, and it would cost an additional £500,000 per year just to maintain the current like-for-like services.
"We believe the redesigned contracts are sustainable, prioritises key services and ensures the majority of local residents have access bus services for work, leisure and access essential services. It also offers scope for future contract changes, if all the tenders can be agreed within the existing budget."
Currently around 80% of the bus network in West Lothian is commercial, with 20% of services subsidised by the council.
The council aims to support public transport where possible to ensure 90% of local residents have access to an hourly or better service daytime service Monday to Saturday. However, the council is legally not allowed to take action that would inhibit competition in the internal market.