West Lothian Council has approved plans to ensure that the 31 bus service continues.
The 31 service is an important service locally as it provides the only direct link from the Bathgate and Livingston areas to Torphichen, Philpstoun and Linlithgow. The 31 service is the only bus service available in both Torphichen and Philpstoun.
The 31 service is fully subsided by West Lothian Council. E&M Horsburgh, who operate the 31 service for the council, have cancelled their contract for the entire 31 service which will be effective from 28 September.
Council officers reviewed the service and looked at the options available. The council’s Public Transport team found that the current 31 service timetable overall was not reliable and the proved difficult to adhere to due to the slow moving vehicles on the rural parts of the route, which had a knock on effect on journeys thereafter. The Council Executive has now agreed to award the new contract to SD Travel. The new £400,000 subsidised service will shorten overall journey times for passengers but will result in some changes to the service from Monday 30 September. These changes are summarised below:
• Wester Inch area will be omitted from the route. Less than 9 % of passenger journeys were taken to or from the Wester Inch area. Furthermore, Wester Inch has seen an improvement to overall bus services since Lothian Country introduced the 287 service last year. The subsided 5A/B service also continues to operate through the village, Wester Inch with approximately 3 buses per hour.
• Removing Wester Inch creates an opportunity to serve Bridgend in the revised 31 service route. Bridgend currently has a limited service following recent changes to the First Bus operated 38 service and the new 31 service will enhance bus services in the village.
• Time limited funding for additional stops was already due to expire on 28 September meaning that the 31 service will no longer serve Ladywell and Dechmont
The 31 service is operated over two separate subsidized contracts. One for an hourly service Monday – Saturday and one for a 2 hourly service on a Sunday. The Sunday service is contracted with E&M Horsburgh and has not been cancelled and will continue to be operated by E&M Horsburgh after the 28 September. It is recognized that in order to maintain consistency for passengers across the two contracts any changes made to the Monday- Saturday service should be replicated in the Sunday service. All other parts of the route will remain the same.