The proposal to cut evening and Sunday bus services in Dumfries and Galloway has serious and wide ranging consequences for Child Safety, Rural Isolation, Health and the Economy undermining Dumfries and Galloway Council’s own Transport Strategy.

Child Safety

Cutting evening and weekend bus services will force children and teenagers under 17 to seek other ways to travel. Children wishing to visit friends or attend activities in the evening or on Sundays may look to find other ways to travel that then leaves them vulnerable or potentially puts them in dangerous situations.

Social Exclusion

A Crichton Institute survey for D&G Council revealed Over 20% of households in the region do not have access to private transport. (Ref 1)


Removing public transport increases social exclusion. One fifth of the population (30,000 people) are left unable to participate in the cultural and social life of the region. If Sundayservices are stopped it will make it nearly impossible for people who don’t drive to visit family and friends for a weekend. Cutting evening bus services means that it will be impossible for those people to participate in the regions wider events, activities and educational opportunities.


18 months ago Dumfries and Galloway Council announced “a partnership between SWestrans, Dumfries & Galloway Council and NHS Dumfries & Galloway to roll out of the Rural Transport Solutions project. It aims to create innovative and sustainable rural transport services to reduce social exclusion”(Ref 4)

The partners clearly understand that public transport services are vital to the reduction of social exclusion, they need to look in detail at the knock on effect that these cuts will have on other budgets.

Rural Isolation

A 2014 survey by Dumfries and Galloway Council revealed that, “The population of those aged 65 and over is projected to reach 34% of Dumfries and Galloway’s projected population by 2037.” (ref 5)

With the trend continuing towards an aging population and more people in rural locations unable to continue driving, buses become increasingly important. Rural Isolation in Dumfries and Galloway is already a significant issue. Cutting bus services will make it significantly worse. The effect on the mental health of a large number of residents could be significant.

Vicki Freeman for NHS Strategic Planning in D&G reported last year that “Transport is regularly quoted as a cause of isolation. The Dumfries and Galloway Community Survey reported that we must recognise that transport problems can have a much bigger impact on people who might already have issues of isolation such as people with a disability and elderly people.” (NHS Strategic Planning for DG Ref 2)

Damage to Business

Cutting bus services will make it impossible for some people to work shifts or have any flexibility for their employer. It is challenging enough for businesses in an area with a disparate population without axing essential services.

Alienating Young

If young people, the future of the region, are unable to travel, see friends, socialise and work locally, do you think they will stay here? What future is there for a region with a thriving tourist industry and no one to work in it?

Undermining Transport Strategy

D&G Council Regional Economic Strategy states “Improving the transport infrastructure (to, from and within the region) is a priority for enabling the region to maximise the benefits of connections with other centres of economic activity. (from Ref 1)


D&G councils own transport strategy priorities improving public transport, these cuts effectively tear up that strategy, and leave the economic activity to find it’s own way.

SWestrans own strategy page expands on that:

“This strategy is about delivering genuine travel choices. It is about providing access to jobs and public services, enabling goods to reach their markets and providing the links that promote social inclusion and support quality of life.

SWestrans needs to look at full evidence based cost implications of the wide ranging impact the decision to cut these services will have before it goes ahead and dismantles it’s own policy.


Exemplary models

We need to look elsewhere to find exemplary models to understand how they are able to deliver key services within budget, for example Highlands and Islands Council (Hitrans) provides services that:


  1. Enable people to participate in everyday life.
  2. Improve the safety and security of travel.
  3. Manage the impacts of travel on the area’s environmental assets.
  4. Improve people’s health.


Budget and pain points

The council has a deficit of funding and needs to find savings.  What is clear is that cutting public transport has far reaching consequences that will lead to much greater cost to the public purse to repair the damage that those cuts will cause to the region, in particular social welfare, health care and economic development.

Please consider carefully the wide ranging and serious effects that cutting these bus services will have on the region.

The pain of these public transport cuts will be amplified across the region and have serious and costly implications for all sectors.


Exploring other solutions

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said in Feb 2106:

Social isolation can damage a person’s sense of belonging, empowerment and contribution to society. (Ref 3)


If it is not possible to find the savings elsewhere the council need to go back to central Government and explain it can’t meet the aims of central government policy. And/ or look to the EU to find the funding for dangerous levels of rural deprivation.

Chris Helson

Helson and Jackets LLP





  1. Dumfries & Galloway Regional Economic Strategy 2014 – 2020

Produced by Crichton Institute for Dumfries and Galloway Council Economic Development Service and Community Planning Executive Group




  1. Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil Feb 2106


  1. http://www.dumgal.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4182&item=305


  1. Population Projections Dumfries and Galloway 2012-2037



  1. The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) http://www.hitrans.org.uk/Strategy/Regional_Transport_Strategy



Latest Articles