An Aberdeen bus firm has been urged to protect a “vital” route after it admitted it could not guarantee its return after lockdown.
The number 8, which is operated by First Aberdeen and links Dubford and Danestone with the city centre and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, has been threatened with the axe several times in recent years due to low passenger numbers.
Following a campaign last year, the firm agreed to maintain peak-time services at existing levels – but activists say the long-term future of the route is once more in doubt.
It was halted in March due to a dramatic fall in overall demand for public transport.
Bridge of Don councillor Sarah Cross, who raised the issue during her by-election campaign in 2019, said: “I am concerned First consider discontinuing the number 8 bus and deem it a non-priority service.
“However, I want to stress to First this service is absolutely vital as the route and frequency enables residents to attend hospital appointments.
“This service is more important than ever now as residents have been unable to attend these hospital visits due to the pandemic, and it is crucial that they are afforded the independence to resume visits and play catch up on their appointments where required.
“Good quality public transport is vital to so many of us who live here, and First need to do more for commuters in Bridge of Don.”
She added: “I will continue to campaign against any proposal to axe this service and I would encourage other residents to contact either myself or First directly to share their views as well.”
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Campaign group Buses for Dubford also called for the service to be saved.
In a statement, the group said: “We are disappointed but not surprised with the news that service 8 may not return.
“We met with First Aberdeen in February where we raised concerns with the performance of the service which we felt were making it difficult for passengers to use it so naturally we would be frustrated to see the service pulled without these problems being addressed and the service 8 being given a fair chance.
“However, we are realistic that passenger numbers have dramatically dropped across the city on all routes.
“We would urge First Aberdeen to engage with us to explore ways other services can be adapted to serve the needs of those passengers that haven’t been able to use the bus since March when service 8 was suspended.
“We have been contacted by a number of regular users that have found it difficult to access shops and medical facilities. As the over 70s are now being encouraged to leave their homes again there were many who rely on the 8 as the only service that serves their homes.”
A spokesman for First Aberdeen said: “At present, the operation of service 8 remains suspended in line with the currently significantly reduced level of overall demand we are experiencing.
“We cannot at this point in time give any assurances as to if or when this route will be reinstated, but as other services are now at near normal levels of operation, we are continuing to review the data to understand how the easing of lockdown is translating to increasing demand for our services.”