Talks continue over future bus services in the Borders

Perrymans buses could be operating routes across the Borders.
Perrymans buses could be operating routes across the Borders.

Following last week’s announcement by bus firm First that it is pulling out of the Borders, there is a glimmer of hope that things may turn out to be for the best.

Last August, Berwick-based Perryman’s Buses took over two routes around Hawick, one linking Selkirk and Galashiels and another serving Oxton and Earlston from First Scotland East, and the company that bought it out at the end of last month, Argyll’s West Coast Motors, is now on the verge of concluding a deal to add the rest of First’s Borders operations to its portfolio of services.

Perryman’s performance since then is being cited by some as grounds for cautious optimism about the future of public transport in the region.

Scottish Borders Council has been in contact with both West Coast Motors and First Bus, and a spokesperson confirmed: “Scottish Borders Council is aware of the discussions between First Scotland East and West Coast Motors regarding the purchase of First’s operations in the Borders.

“Having spoken to both operators, the council is confident that, should the purchase go ahead, the existing level of services for passengers will be maintained in the short term.

“The council already works alongside West Coast Motors, and its Perryman’s Buses business, after the company took on a number of First services in the Borders last year, which they are successfully operating.

“The council welcomes the assurances given by First that all jobs, pay and conditions will be protected, with staff transferring to West Coast Motors if the sale is completed.

“We will work closely with both companies during any transition period and will continue its partnership with West Coast Motors to deliver improved services in the longer term, whatever the outcome of the current negotiations.”