A survey is under way seeking the views of Aberdeenshire residents and communities to identify travel priorities and preferences.
Aberdeenshire Council is undertaking a ‘clean-sheet’ review of local bus, and dial-a-bus, services that it supports financially.
The council says it is vital the consultation attracts not just existing passenger transport service users, but engages with as wide an audience as possible in order to help the authority understand the areas where provision of bus services is affecting people’s ability to access key destinations and activities.
The questionnaire focuses on ascertaining views on how best to provide supported bus services and can be completed as individuals or on behalf of an organisation.
The findings of the survey will complement feedback which the council routinely receives from area bus forums.
Bus services in Scotland are provided in a deregulated marketplace, with most routes delivered on a commercial basis by private companies.
Bus operators can choose to provide services on any route and with any timetable, provided they have registered the service with the Office of the Scottish Traffic Commissioner. These are described as “commercial”.
Local authorities such as Aberdeenshire have a duty to identify travel needs within their area which are not otherwise met, and secure what public transport is appropriate taking into account the funds available.
These bus services are described as “supported”.
In addition to funding fixed route bus services, the council supports community transport, such as dial-a-bus and car schemes operated by the voluntary sector, provides
door-to-door dial-a-bus services and also provides a TaxiCard Scheme which offers a discount on taxi fares, usually £5 per journey, for older and disabled residents.
Chair of the council’s infrastructure services committee, Councillor Peter Argyle, said: “It was agreed earlier this year that the network should be reassessed by means of a ‘clean-sheet’ approach.
“This is in order to identify a more sustainable network in the longer term that will more effectively cater for otherwise unmet travel needs, assist in addressing patronage decline and provide better value for money.
“I would encourage all those who currently use bus services or may require them in the future to complete this quick survey which will provide vital information for our wider consultation.”
Further information on the council’s strategy and associated current policies for the support of passenger transport including local bus services, can be found in the Passenger Transport Strategy https://www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/media/7991/passengertransportstrategy.pdf.
The questionnaire is now available online until December 9 at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SYRQ3QV.