POLITICIANS have hit out following an announcement that the X1 bus service between Hamilton and Glasgow city centre has been axed.
First Glasgow said the service is no longer viable to run despite efforts to encourage the use of the route before the coronavirus pandemic.
The service has been suspended during lockdown and Hamilton councillor Mark McGeever revealed he learned of the decision to scrap the service via e-mail on Friday night.
He said: “First Bus has scrapped the X1. This decision was put out via e-mail at 6pm on a Friday – but if the hope was that timing would generate fewer bad headlines it misjudges the strength of feeling in Hamilton.
“This company has badly let down workers, students, elderly residents and others who depend on the service.
“Just a few months ago this operator looked me and other elected representatives in the eye and assured us this vital link to the city centre would get real support to keep it viable in the long term.
“Many people will believe the announcement shows there never was a meaningful commitment to the X1.
“They will feel misled and abandoned. I had no response from First to my questions about bringing back the suspended service as lockdown restrictions eased, and it is hard not to suspect their silence over recent weeks was because there was no plan to bring it back.
“I will continue to work with councillors and parliamentarians of all parties to do whatever can be done to make First Bus live up to its responsibilities as an operator.”
MSP Monica Lennon revealed she would continue to fight for the service to remain after being inundated from constituents who rely on the service.
She said: “We have had to fight to save this vital service before and we will do so again.”
Graeme Macfarlan, Commercial Director for First Glasgow, said: “Like many other companies throughout the world, First Glasgow has been impacted by the pandemic and are facing one of the most challenging and unprecedented periods ever. We have tried to react quickly to the challenges presented throughout the pandemic with innovation as well as the safety of our staff and customers being at the forefront.
“Prior to the global pandemic, extensive efforts were made to make service X1 a viable operation, and we were grateful for the support that was shown to the service during that time.
“We applied various methods of support in an attempt to boost the service including a revamp look for the service and a massive online and on street promotion. We also offered an off-peak discount in an attempt to boost dwindling numbers as well as local politicians committing to promotion of the service within their constituencies.
“Unfortunately, all of this support did not translate into passengers using the service and even prior to the pandemic, simply was not carrying enough passengers despite the renewed efforts to even cover its costs of operation. The X1 service has been suspended for over three months now and throughout the lockdown period as part of our reduced network Covid-19 contingencies.
“Now, given the given the catastrophic effects of the coronavirus pandemic on passenger volumes and the requirement for social distancing reducing the ability to carry the passenger volumes needed, it’s simply no longer viable for the service to run, and it’s with regret that we have to make the difficult decision to permanently withdraw the service.
“It’s crucial that we prioritise all resource to where it is most needed and alleviate the challenges caused by Social Distancing restrictions, also ensuring services have sufficient capacity where passenger volumes are increasing.”