04 Jun 2018
Stagecoach North Scotland today released proposals for improvements to the Caithness bus network which is planned to be introduced when schools return in August.
The proposals have been developed using feedback gathered at the public event held in April where customers gave their thoughts on the most important connections to be offered as well as patronage data demonstrating use of the existing services . The plans include revisions to the service between Thurso and Inverness as well as the services in both Thurso and Wick. Thurso town service has been revised to improve connections to Lidl and in Wick connections to Tesco, Wick Retail Park, Martha Terrace Medical Practice and Wick Community Campus have also been improved following customer suggestions at the April meeting.
It is proposed that from 20th August there will be an increase to 4 journeys a day between Thurso and Inverness as service X98 will extend to Caithness providing additional connections to Inverness. Two journeys a day will operate as an X99 and in addition the X99 journey departing Thurso at 0620 (Monday - Saturday) will extend to Raigmore Hospital and Inverness Shopping Park. This revision is based on customer feedback and will provide a direct connection to two key areas of Inverness from the north.
Service 82 will be revised to include Wick Community Campus in the route allowing easy access to the primary school, high school and community facilities. A late night Saturday journey on service 82 has also been introduced in response to customer feedback for those looking to enjoy an evening out in Wick or Thurso.
The route of service 77 will be revised and will terminate at Keiss, the section of route between Keiss and John O Groats is to be withdrawn. Passenger use of this section of route is exceptionally low with an average of less than 3 passengers per journey even when just considering the busiest periods. However, a connection to Wick from John O Groats will still be available as service 80 is timed to meet service X98 in Castletown for one return journey per day. Other connections are available using service 82 changing bus in Thurso. It is no longer feasible to retain connections with the ferry crossings at Gills Bay. Stagecoach is retaining connections with the sailings to and from Orkney at Scrabster which continue to be the most popular with bus passengers.
Daniel Laird, Commercial Director, Stagecoach North Scotland said: "We are grateful for the level of engagement with the local community earlier this year and have used the comments gathered at the event to assist in designing these revisions. We are once again keen to hear views from the local communities in Caithness and Sutherland to ensure we are making the bus an attractive choice for travel before finalising our plans for changes in August. We continue to face a challenging economic environment and our proposals are looking to use our resources in the best way possible to maximise the journey opportunities for where people want to go most regularly. I encourage anyone with an interest in their local bus services to let us know their thoughts on our proposals before Friday 22nd June."
Stagecoach is arranging a series of evening drop-in sessions in Thurso, Wick and Golspie to give people the opportunity to discuss the proposals with the company. These sessions will be held from 4.30 - 8.30pm between 11th and 13th June.
The next Caithness Bus Users Group meeting will also be held on Wednesday 13th June at 1030am in the Norseman Hotel, Wick where there will also be opportunity to comment on the proposals.
Monday 11th June - Pentland Hotel, Thurso - 1630 - 2030
Tuesday 12th June - Norseman Hotel, Wick - 1630 - 2030
Wednesday 13th June - Stags Head Hotel, Golspie - 1630 - 2030
Wednesday 13th June - Caithness Bus Users Group Meeting - Norseman Hotel, Wick - 1030 - 1230
All proposed timetables and route maps are now available at stagecoachbus.com. All feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to [email protected] or sent to Daniel Laird, Commercial Director, CAITHNESS CONSULTATION at Inverness bus Station, Farraline Park, Inverness, IV1 1LT. Deadline for feedback to be received is Friday 22nd June 2018.