Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ye cannae kick oor village aff the bus

Stagecoach have axed the Sunday 63 Peterhead to Aberdeen bus service, so there's no way of catching a bus on a Sunday. When the Energetica Walking and Wildlife Festival takes place or a beach-clean is organised for Forvie Sands, there is no public transport for ten miles/one third on this supposedly vital development corridor on a Sunday. Ironically I want to photograph Aberdeen on Sunday September 20th, as it is 'Town Without My Car' Day!

On August 15th 2015 the last Saturday bus to Ellon departed Collieston. Folk who work or study all week, now have no public transport at the weekend. All public transport into the village has now stopped.

Run by Burns Coaches of Tarves, the last privately owned public bus left Collieston on Saturday 15th August. Burns also ran the Tuesday bus, while the Thursday service was operated by Watermill. Ira Dempster has been driving the Tuesday and Saturday buses from Fyvie to Collieston, via Ellon, for a decade.He is pictured below with his wife Sheila - they celebrate their golden wedding anniversary in December. Tributes on social media have praised the punctual, safe and friendly bus service that the village has enjoyed over the years.

 'I will miss the social outing and seeing people from Fyvie and Methlick. The bus drivers and passengers have become friends over the years,' writes Yvonne Ferguson.

'As a regular user of the service I would also like to thank the Tues/Sat team and the Thursday driver for such a wonderful service. I shall miss my little journeys into Ellon and my travelling companions from Methlick and Fyvie. Let's hope the A2B service can fill the huge gap left by the demise of the Collieston to Fyvie service' - Carol Ann Proudlock

'When Shona was a baby, I used to take the bus on a Thursday to get shopping. We used to go into the Kirk Centre for a buttery and a fly cup' - Gillian Moir

While the Saturday service has been lost, as Carol mentions, a flexible A2B on-demand service will operate between Collieston and Ellon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beginning on Tuesday 18th August, this minibus is operated by Aberdeenshire Council. Meantime it will replicate the times and pickups of the previous buses - therefore 10.50am on Tuesdays returning from Ellon at 12.25pm, and 9.30am on Thursdays  returning at 11.20am. For insurance purposes, customers must be registered (01224-664747) to use this free service. This number can be phoned to book Tuesday and Thursday journeys between 9.30am and 2.30pm outwith the usual times. The minibus will leave from Forvie Court or any other specified Collieston pickup pointWhere feasible, door-to-door collections and pickups from the Health Centre, Aldi, Park & Ride, Ellon Academy and the Public Library, for example, can be booked. It is vital that this new service is used. After only a year's operation, Oldmeldrum lose their A2B minibus this week due to poor user numbers.

'On Friday 19th February, 1982, the The Press and Journal contained an article outlining the new-look bus services for the Buchan area. Entitled ‘Ellon bus booster’, one sentence provoked concern and anger in Collieston. It read, ‘Except at school times, buses will no longer serve Collieston’.

Outrage at the loss of their 11 times daily bus service quickly led to action and a petition with more than 100 signatures was hastily collected by the villagers and sent to the bus company, W. Alexander and Sons (Northern) to show them the strength of feeling in the village about their decision to remove Collieston from their itinerary.

Sadly outrage and a petition were not enough to save the bus service and, after dropping off the last passenger at Collieston, Mr John Wood of Whiteness Cottages, the last bus drove out of the village on the evening of Saturday 6th March, 1982 to the sound of a lament played on the bagpipes by Mr Bob Paterson of Coastguard Cottages. Also in attendance were many people from the village, both young and old, all of whom were wearing black armbands to mark the sad occasion.'

Thanks to journalist Jack Page who wrote a report 'Last Bus Lament' which was published in the P & J on March 8th 1982. Jack lives in Collieston and is a regular on the Tuesday bus.

Email for copies of more articles and photo.

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