Sadness as Dundee bus services face the axe this week

28 Mar 2024
bus 206

Three vital Dundee bus services face the axe on Saturday (30th March) following the council’s failure to find alternative funding sources. This is on the back of the council’s SNP administration axing financial support for these services that are mainly used by elderly passengers in the city.

The routes affected are the 204, 206 and 236 that serve Broughty Ferry, the West End, Lochee, Stobswell, Mill O’ Mains, Linlathen and Claverhouse.

The ‘Out and About’ Service that takes older people on occasional trips will also have no council support going forward but has been saved thanks to Dundee Community Transport stepping in and securing National Lottery community funding.

The council has also pulled out of supporting the Shoppers’ Bus that takes elderly sheltered housing tenants across Dundee to shop once a week.  It also faces the axe at the end of March but another Dundee charity - Food Train - has stepped forward and is trying to secure external funding to keep it going. The council has given the service a short reprieve to 30th June to see the outcome of funding bids.    

Liberal Democrat Council Group Leader and West End Councillor Fraser Macpherson said:

 “When the SNP axed the funding at last year’s budget to take effect from 1st April 2024, the spin the council put out was that it was seeking alternative funding for these services to save them from being lost from the end of this financial year, but this has failed in the case of services 204, 206 and 236, which is a great shame.”

 “In my own ward area, my ward colleague Cllr Michael Crichton and I have received many concerns about the likely loss of Service 204. It serves some streets that have either no alternative bus service – like Windsor Street, Magdalen Yard Road and Roseangle – or very little in the way of an alternative service – like Tullideph Road.”    

“Bus users are mainly elderly and the 204 is a lifeline as parts of the route are very hilly and if the 204 goes, walking to the nearest alternative service some distance away is simply not possible for older folk, particularly for those with mobility difficulties.”

 Councillor Macpherson advised that the Liberal Democrat Group at this year’s revenue budget meeting on 29thFebruary found the funding in its budget amendment to save all three bus services, but SNP and Conservative councillors voted down its budget amendment 15-12 which he described as a truly sad outcome.

Dundee City Council’s Head of Sustainable Transport and Roads, told Councillor Macpherson :  

“The operators have deregistered the 204, 206, and 236 as of 31 March 2024 and the last day of service will be Saturday 30 March.”

“The Out & About service is continuing in 2024/25 with funding received from Dundee Community Transport which was secured from National Lottery grant.”

“The Food Train are submitting grant funding applications to continue the Shoppers Bus in 2024/25 and we are providing bridge funding to continue the service to 30th June 2024 pending outcome of their grant applications which will determine whether the service continues beyond June.”

Broughty Ferry councillor Craig Duncan, whose ward is served by Service 206, said :

 “I am angered by the needless loss of the 206 and other similar community lifeline services elsewhere in the city. Bus 206 has been a great help to many residents taking them into central Broughty Ferry for shopping and also to Dobbie’s at Ethiebeaton Park. All credit goes to the locals who have organised petitions against the loss of the 206 but the SNP council administration has ignored all calls to save these three bus services.”   

“I do sometimes wonder about the sense of priority of Dundee City Council.    Saving the 204, 206 and 236 bus services would have cost just £136 000 out of a total council revenue budget next year of £462 million.”

“Furthermore, the SNP administration last year spent £85 000 of public money on hybrid equipment to run council committee meetings simultaneously online and in-person. This was, in the view of the Liberal Democrat Group not a priority while vital services are under pressure.”  

“I think if you asked the Dundee public if £85 000 should be spent on council committee hybrid equipment or on vital bus services that are used mainly by older residents, I think we all know what they would say.  It shows how out of touch the SNP administration has become.”

Councillor Macpherson concluded :

“If these buses get axed, there will be a real gap in provision and it is older people who will be most impacted. The council is supposed to go through a process of integrated impact assessments to ensure no vulnerable groups are disproportionately badly impacted by decisions.  This decision fails that test at the first hurdle. The decision rather makes a mockery of the council’s oft-repeated virtue signalling talk about "inclusivity” - many elderly residents don’t drive and cannot afford taxis particularly during this cost of living crisis.”

“Some councils such as Renfrewshire Council are now carrying out comprehensive reviews of public transport in their areas to look at gaps in provision and possible solutions.    In contrast, Dundee is creating more gaps and the decline in supported bus services in the city over the SNP’s tenure in running the council administration is to be deeply regretted.”    

“We should always be looking to make the public transport network better and the council must now look at all options to ensure communities across Dundee have the best possible access to public transport and in a way that encourages people to use it.”