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'Very poor' bus service in Nairn housing estate sparks call for action from retired fire officer

By Donald Wilson

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David Mackay is calling for a better bus service for the Lochloy housing estate in Nairn.
David Mackay is calling for a better bus service for the Lochloy housing estate in Nairn.

A retired senior fire officer is calling on a better bus service for the Lochloy housing estate in Nairn.

David Mackay (66) is waiting for a knee replacement and with no car is dependant on buses to take him into town to do his shopping.

"It's nearly a three mile round trip to Sainsburys.

"There are many elderly people and others here who have no cars and are dependent on public transport. There's not even a bus stop. You have to hail the drivers down, that's if a bus ever comes."

Mr Mackay said the X12 service between Nairn and Inverness via Lochloy had been stopped.

"Last week I missed a doctor's appointment in Nairn, and a hospital and dental appointment in Inverness because the bus never turned up. I understand the service has now been withdrawn.

"It was a very poor service in the first place with one bus in the morning and another late afternoon and with such a large population of elderly people and young families on this estate we are totally isolated.

"The nearest convenience store on the A96 is more than a mile and half away. I'm needing a knee replacement and cant afford taxis every time I need to do my shopping and there's no way I can pay for taxis to hospitals, doctors and dentists.

"I've been here for two and half years and the bus service by Stagecoach, who are subsidised by the Government, has always been substandard."

Newly elected local councillor Paul Oldham who lives in Lochloy, confirmed he had received complaints from residents.

"I’ve had people contact me this week saying that Stagecoach are only intermittently providing the X12 service which runs from Sainsburys through the Lochloy estate and Nairn into Inverness via the university and Raigmore, apparently due to lack of drivers.

"This is bad enough for users as it is but it turns out that Stagecoach had already announced back on May 9th that the service would be withdrawn completely from Monday July 4th.

"The good news, such as it is, is that the service 11 will be returning to Nairn on that date and it will also run on Saturdays, unlike the X12.

"However the bad news is that it won’t go to the university or Raigmore but will instead go to Ardersier and the airport. It will also take one hour and twenty two minutes to do the complete journey so you may find using the service 10 (which is direct between Inverness and Nairn from the King Street bus station every half-hour) for part of your journey rather quicker."

Councillor Oldham added: "I am speaking to officers about this as it’s all a definite downgrade to the bus service for Nairn. Whether anything can be done in the short term I doubt but I will be pressing for improvements to Nairn’s bus services."

"There is some new funding available to improve bus services and it’s essential that Nairn gets its fair share of that.

Inverness bus users angered

A spokesman for Stagecoach said: "A spokesperson for Stagecoach Highlands said: "Bus networks across the country are continuing to face challenges as a result of the pandemic, as well as changes in the labour market and the impact of rising cost inflation in the economy.

"We remain absolutely committed to working with our Scottish Government and local authority partners, to deliver the best networks we can for local communities, taking account of the current difficult environment and the changes we have seen in when and how people travel. We are also working around the clock to recruit new drivers to address the shortages affecting the wider transport and logistics sector.

"The majority of our bus services are continuing to operate, however some changes have been necessary to match the current level of resource and demand. Service X12 will be replaced with service 11, which will operate to Nairn and Lochloy via Ardersier and the airport. This new service will also operate to Lochloy on Saturdays."

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