THERE are calls to stop the axing of a bus route between Stirling and St Andrews.

Stagecoach recently decided to cut its number 23 service, saying it was under-performing even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford is calling on the bus company to reconsider, highlighting the importance of the service to commuters and residents in rural communities.

He said: “It’s no secret the public transport sector has faced challenges throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But as workplaces, schools and general life has begun to adopt a new normal, it’s vital public transport remains an option for commuters and residents.

“Whilst local authorities and the Scottish Government have encouraged active travel, and the uptake of methods such as cycling has been robust, bus travel remains a lifeline for several rural communities across Stirling and Central Scotland.

“I urge Stagecoach to go back to the drawing board, carry out further consultation with communities and local authorities, and find a solution that serves both their customers and our communities.”

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: "The decision was made to withdraw service 23 as it was under-performing prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing costs mean that this service operates at a significant loss, resulting in us no longer being able to commercially run the service.

"We have been in contact with the local authorities where this service operates and have shared passenger numbers to allow them to consider if they can provide an alternative service."

While consultation over the plans has ended, the Scottish Green party has started a petition to save the “lifeline” service.

Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said: “The 23 bus is a lifeline service serving many communities across North Fife and Clacks, Stagecoach should be working with these communities to build up patronage rather than quietly planning to slash the service.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart has also expressed concerns, calling on the company to rethink its stance.

He said: “I completely understand that the current Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many public transport companies have been both quieter in passenger numbers as well as running with increasing costs to keep these passengers safe, but this should not mean that communities are penalised as a result.”

Click here for more information on the petition.