U-turn over changes to school bus route

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Plans to axe a school bus route have been reversed after concerns about pupil safety.

Stagecoach Bluebird initially planned to scrap the service which allowed Westhill Academy pupils to be dropped off around the Kingswells area.

Fears had been raised that children would have to dash across the busy A944 Aberdeen to Alford road to get to the school.

The bus firm has reduced the Aberdeen to Elrick 18/218 service because of dwindling numbers, but will now keep the school service, which picks up passengers at Kingswells Village and Fairley Road, after talks with officials.

Westhill councillor Ron McKail had said original plans to scrap the service were “an accident waiting to happen” but was pleased the company has responded.

Mr McKail said: “I am obviously very happy that Stagecoach has decided to keep the service. It would have been appalling if children had to cross the road, which is always very busy.

“I had a number of parents contact me saying they were worried and I know this decision to keep the route has the total backing of everyone at the school.”

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach Bluebird stated that the initial reason for scrapping the service was due to a lack of passengers and “continually rising operating costs”.

She added: “Following customer comments regarding the changes to route 18/218 from 12th March, we are delighted to be able to continue to operate journeys between Kingswells Village and Westhill Academy.

“Two school journeys, departing at 0829 (Kingswells Fairley Road)/ 0834 (Kingswells Village) for Westhill Academy and returning at 1620 will operate on school days.”

However the 18/218 service, which takes Westhill residents to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, has been reduced.

The spokeswoman added: “Unfortunately customer numbers have been low for some time and we have tried a number of different timetable revisions to counteract that. However the route continues to operate at a loss and it is no longer commercially viable to operate.”