Carluke community minibus is nearing its final journey

Cllr Eileen Logan
Cllr Eileen Logan

After more than a quarter of a century of taking local groups on outings, Carluke’s community minibus service is ending.

The last booking date for the 17-seater bus will be Saturday, September 10, and a good home has already been found for it.

“It is no longer viable to run,” explained Douglas Scott, chairman of Carluke Community Transport.

“There’s not enough groups using it.

“The bus is spending a good part of its life sitting in the garage, while the bills and expenses still come in regardless.”

The decision comes weeks after the Gazette reported that the Lanark Community Minibus service was ending. Similar schemes in Douglas and Lesmahagow have long since ceased.

Douglas said that in Carluke there had been a drop in the number of groups operating and those organising outings were using two or three cars rather than taking the bus.

“It’s just one of those things,” he said. “It’s done not badly for 26 years!”

Groups using the bus nominated two drivers and the Transport Group covered repairs and insurance costs. The money coming in from the groups never covered the costs but the group got a grant from the Scottish Community Foundation. And while other grants were available, the group decided there was no sense in keeping it going.

“I would like to thank the Scottish Community Foundation for funding, and thank all those who have supported us over the years,” said Douglas.

He also thanked Eileen Logan, who took bookings, and Margaret Murray, the group’s secretary, for all their sterling work and Alan Mills and Dougal Templeman for servicing the minibus.

He does not yet know what will happen to the garage but the bus itself will have a new future.

“I’ve found a home for it,” said Douglas.

Eileen Logan, local councillor and supporter of the transport scheme from the start, told the Gazette: “It’s very, very sad.

“It has been a feature of the town for a long time, which is unusual in this day and age. I remember fundraising to buy the bus, and I’ve taken the bookings for maybe 16 of those years; a long time anyway.”

In its heyday the bus was well used, particularly by uniformed organisations such as the Scouts, Guides and Brownies, and by church groups and bowlers. By 1989, 33 groups were registered with the project.

But as its condition deteriorated, bookings dropped off.

The number of different drivers meant community buses showed wear and tear quickly and as a bus became unreliable, bookings fell.

But, Eileen said, that when that had happened in the past, the group had then managed to buy a new bus – and bookings then came in again.

The current minibus was the third owned by the group.

However, there was no reprieve this time round, thanks partly to the current economic climate.

In the past the group managed to put money aside for renewal costs but with high running costs, particularly of insurance, that had not been possible in recent years and the cost of a new bus was beyond the pale.

“It is a shame,” added Eileen.

The Lanark Community Minibus was provided by South Lanarkshire Council, and it gave the same reasons for the end of the service – the bus was worn out and it was not worthwhile repairing or replacing it due to falling usage.