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Bikes on buses scheme to expand across Highlands

By John Davidson

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A pilot service operating from Inverness which let people carry bikes on buses is to be extended to other routes across the Highlands and Islands.

The scheme, introduced in summer 2021, allows passengers to use a supplied "bike sock" to cover their wheels and chain so that the bike can be carried in the luggage compartment without damaging other baggage.

The pilot service has been run as a partnership between Scottish Citylink and Stagecoach and funded by HiTrans, the regional transport partnership for the Highlands and Islands.

Vikki Trelfer, active travel officer at HiTrans, demonstrating the Bikes on Bus service.
Vikki Trelfer, active travel officer at HiTrans, demonstrating the Bikes on Bus service.

It has been operating on Stagecoach services between Inverness and Caithness, and Inverness and Ullapool, and by Scottish Citylink on services between Inverness and Skye, Fort William and Ullapool.

Data gathered during the pilot shows that the Ullapool to Inverness route was the most popular for bike carriage, mainly due to people returning from completing the Hebridean Way cycle route, which goes from Barra to the Butt of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

The majority of feedback during the trial period was from potential customers wishing to have the comfort and security of being able to book their bike on the bus when they purchase their ticket.

As a result Scottish Citylink has introduced a new booking service which enables travellers to book their bike on the bus at the same time they make their seat reservation. Bike space can be reserved as an "Additional Hold Item" when buying a ticket online.

The new routes to be included in the expanded service are:

  • 917: Inverness / Portree
  • 919: Inverness / Fort William
  • 961: Inverness / Ullapool
  • 914: Fort William / Glasgow
  • 915: Uig / Fort William / Glasgow
  • 916: Uig / Fort William / Glasgow

HiTrans board member Councillor Ken Gowans said: “This excellent partnership with the bus operators is good news for local people wishing to take the bus and then cycle for their onward journey as well as visitors travelling to and from the Highlands and Islands for cycle touring holidays.

"It also enables car-free travel to parts of our region with no train service.”

Simone Smith, operations director of Scottish Citylink, said: “We are delighted to be able to respond to the demand of our customers by offering a booking service and extending the number of routes on offer.”

Alex Flanagan, Stagecoach operations manager for Aviemore, Inverness and Tain, added: “We are delighted to be able to accommodate cycles more easily on some of our key routes.”

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