Apr 15 2011 by Stuart Wilson, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
A COMMUNITY has reacted with fury to plans to withdraw its bus service.
Residents in Alloway have launched a savage attack on Stagecoach, who are axing the popular A1 route to The Loaning.
And more than 150 people turned out at a protest rally to underline their disgust at the move.
But bus chiefs insist their contingency plan – to re-route long distance services from Girvan and Stranraer into Alloway – will help ease the pain.
Now both sides are on a collision course, with politicians and councillors lining up to support the public.
Residents have already seen their service – which ran into Prestwick every 15 minutes – cut to twice an hour, with services terminating in Ayr town centre.
That service will now be axed as well, leaving Loaning residents to hop on the busy long distance services which will divert on their way into Ayr. Resident Jane Wallace said: “This affects people of all ages who live here and use the bus.
“Many residents rely on the bus to travel into town and the long distance service is often packed when it arrives here.”
Fellow campaigner Pat Carruthers added: “This isn’t about old people moaning they don’t have a bus service. You have people who come on the bus to pick up their children from school. It’s about all ages.”
The axe will fall on The Loaning’s A1 service on Monday, June 6 and Ayr Councillor Elaine Little is furious the public is being sent mixed messages about using public transport.
She said: “The other week, I was at Ayr College, where they were encouraging students to use the bus.
“We’re supposed to be doing everything we can to get people using public transport, but this sort of thing flies in the face of that.”
Ayr parliamentary candidate John Scott added: “The sheer number of people who turned up for our protest shows how valuable local residents regard this service as being and how well used it is.
“I’m calling on Stagecoach to reconsider its position and leave the A1 service as it currently operates.
“Replacing the A1 with a ‘through service’ from Girvan and Maybole would be a much reduced quality of service for local people.
“The fact that these long distance buses terminate at Ayr bus station would also mean shopping access to the High Street would be much more difficult, particularly for the elderly.”
But bus bosses insist service won’t be compromised. Stagecoach traffic manager George Connell said: “We have taken into consideration all the implications of making this move.
“The A1 Loaning service wasn’t the most cost effective use of our resources and as a result will be withdrawn. But there will be no reduction in services for The Loaning, as the long distance buses will visit with the same frequency.”