First invest £1.5m in new buses in the Borders

Published: 25 Feb 2013 08:307 comments

EACH bus is fitted with complementary wi-fi, leather seats and audio announcements.

John Gorman (pictured left), Operations Director at First Scotland East, with Lee Young First Scotland East's Operations Manager in the Borders.

John Gorman (pictured left), Operations Director at First Scotland East, with Lee Young First Scotland East's Operations Manager in the Borders.

IT used to be one of the most dreadful bus journeys in the country.

The X95 bus service which linked the Borders with Edinburgh and Carlisle was often late, cold and uncomfortable.

But this week First Scotland East has announced bus passengers in the Borders are benefiting from an improved service thanks to an investment worth more than £1.5million.

Aimed at improving bus travel and making journeys more comfortable, First has introduced ten brand new single deck buses on service X95 which links the Borders with Edinburgh to the North East and Carlisle to the South.

And now it is like a home from home.

Each bus is fitted with complementary wi-fi, leather seats and audio announcements. Meanwhile, the interior of each vehicle has been modified to allow greater flexibility for both buggies and wheelchairs whilst providing additional grab rails for all passengers whether seated or standing.

Operations Director of First Scotland East, John Gorman, said: "Our £1.5million investment in ten brand new buses reflects our aim to improve services for our customers and our commitment to encourage more people to use our services and to use them more often."

Mr Gorman was showcasing one of the new vehicles at Galashiels Bus Station earlier this week. He was joined by members of his management team on Wednesday (20 Feb) at a 'Meet the Team event' which was organised by First Scotland East to give customers the opportunity to provide direct feedback about the company's bus services.

"The new buses have been in service for a few weeks and have proved very popular with customers," continued Mr Gorman. "Feedback from passengers indicates that the leather seating and in particular the complementary wi-fi , which allows passengers to stay connected whilst on the move, is proving very popular."

The new vehicles introduced by First are Enviro 300s, built by Falkirk based manufacturer Alexander Dennis. They all come fitted with low floor access and have the latest Euro V engines.

The new buses operate on Service X95 which runs between Edinburgh and Carlisle via Eskbank, Newtongrange-Stow, Galashiels, Selkirk, Hawick and Langholm. Services operate every 30 minutes at peak times with 90 minute journey times between Edinburgh and Galashiels and 2hrs between Galashiels and Carlisle.

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  • mcivkev
    1 post
    Feb 25, 19:22
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    In the long time that first has operated in the Borders, they only recognise now that the complete fleet of buses not just x95 needs replacing, and even then alot of the drivers are rude and ignorant, wifi on the bus? better hope the bus doesnt lose its mobile signal then and at best it will be 3G speeds.

    if the borders was called Edinburgh or maybe Glasgow then new buses would be a common sighting not once in a blue moon. I still wont be using this company regardless of how new the buses are.

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 6

  • Madcat28
    1 post
    Feb 25, 20:36
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    I think the new busses are brilliant, and although a lot of the older busses are perhaps past their best, if you actually use them, you will see that the worst of the damage has been vandalism by passengers.

    Is it not better to have the long haul journeys in comfort rather than the 5 minute town trips??

    The drivers on the other hand, are only human, I have witnessed First Drivers who are driving, get abuse from other road users (at no fault of their own) and I have witnessed a driver waiting to come on shift being "squared up to" by what could only be described as an undesirable... When the drivers are treated with the respect they deserve then they actually give it back. Its "swings and roundabouts!"

    Also a lot of older people (particularly in Hawick) complaining that "there are too many driver changes that they don't need to change that often if they did a proper shift things would run smoother"... WHAT!!! First drivers go by what the law sets out, and sometimes even have to do split shifts in order to bring the public an affordable service... If these people don't like it, get a taxi!!!

    From Louise, Hawick

    Recommend?   Yes 7     No 2

  • ProjectHawick
    5 posts
    Feb 25, 22:02
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    The problem here is that First have a monopoly on transport services in the Scottish Borders. For most people they simply don't have a choice in what operator they use, unlike in other rural areas of Scotland. For years the bare minimum was what customers were offered, with cold buses, complacent bus timetables and poor attitudes from some (but not all) employees.

    We strongly welcome any investment in bus services, but bear this in mind -

    In 1969 it took little over 1 hour and 20 minutes (some evening journeys took just 50 minutes) to reach Edinburgh by rail from Hawick. Today it very rarely takes under 2 hours by bus, and will only be cut to 1 hour and 35 minutes with the new Borders Rail project.

    Recommend?   Yes 8     No 0

  • ireneee
    1 post
    Feb 25, 23:46
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    Wish first would take over the a68 route as Munro,s buses are terrible would be a pleasure traveling to Edinburgh in a nice comfy bus in comfort rather than freezing noisy smelly buses

    Recommend?   Yes 0     No 0

  • Jambojohnt
    38 posts
    Feb 26, 07:50
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    The more cynical among us my believe that this is an attempt by First to drag their service to an acceptable standard so it may compete with the Railway. It would seem the Railway is enhancing the lives of borderers even before it is up and running.

    Choo, Choo. Bring on the trains.

    Recommend?   Yes 4     No 0

  • george30
    1 post
    Feb 26, 15:52
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    I am more cynical in that my concern is the number of buses will be cut for the following reasons after the railway opens

    The subsidy was cut last year so that it now only covers evening and weekend buses and First have said that the route has to be "Commercial Viable" which means dearer fares or less buses.

    When the railway opens don't forget that from Selkirk to Carlisle will not have a choice of a train and what guarantees have we of the same bus service then.

    We already have a limited service from Hawick to Carlisle so while the railway may bring benefits to some of the borders I hope others will not loose out

    Recommend?   Yes 1     No 2

  • georgethepost
    2 posts
    Feb 26, 18:25
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    I saw a First Bus, with a banner along the side of it, saying "This Is Forty"

    I thought it was the age of the Bus, but apparently it is a new film release.

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 0