Local elected members in the Hamilton area have met with First Bus on Friday 17th July to express their dismay at the announcement that First do not intend to run the X1 express route from Hillhouse to Glasgow.
Christina McKelvie MSP, Angela Crawley MP and Margaret Ferrier MP met with the senior management at First Glasgow and questioned the decision to axe the route, highlighting the continuing support for the X1 service from communities across Hamilton.
The X1 was temporarily suspended at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and on Friday 3rd July, First announced to stakeholders that they would be withdrawing a number of marginal routes across Glasgow and the surrounding areas – including the X1.
This is not the first time the X1 service has been under threat. The route was placed under a review period which took place from October 2019 until February 2020. The service was saved when extra promotion for the X1 including increased marketing and off-peak fare incentives led to an uplift in passenger numbers.
Commenting MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse Christina McKelvie said:
“The X1 service is an absolutely vital lifeline to so many communities across Hamilton, with students and workers using the route to commute into Glasgow. In addition to this, the X1 provides a key social link for many of my constituents. In particular, it provides coverage to residents living in the High Earnock area who would otherwise struggle to travel to Hamilton or Glasgow by public transport.
“We made it clear to First that we find it absolutely unacceptable for the X1 to be cancelled without any real consultation with the local community. While the service has been suspended it is impossible for First Bus to know what the demand is like in the area. With many more people returning to work as we ease our way out of lockdown, countless more people will be relying on the X1 to get them where they need to go.
“We will be meeting again with First in the near future to explore what options are available to secure the continued running of the X1.”
MP for Lanark and Hamilton East Angela Crawley said:
“I welcome the progress made at the meeting with First, however it is unacceptable that they proposed cutting the service without testing the post-lockdown demand.
“The X1 is a lifeline to many of my constituents and without it, many of passengers will struggle with their daily commute to and from Glasgow.
“I look forward to meeting again with representatives from First Glasgow and we will continue to press them to reinstate the service.”
Councillor for Hamilton South Josh Wilson said:
“Lockdown has exacerbated inequality in many parts of the area that I represent. Good transport links are vital in allowing people to return to employment when the economy reopens.
“We can’t talk about a green recovery from coronavirus whilst simultaneously removing methods of public transport.
“It is good news that the service could be reinstated and I will work with colleagues to ensure my constituents remain connected.”
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Margaret Ferrier said:
“The X1 service is a lifeline for my constituents and they want reassurance that they will have accessible public transport options, as we start to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Dropping the X1 will do nothing to help my constituents get to where they need to be, especially as we start to travel more as lockdown eases. Their quality of life is at stake here and FirstBus must not abandon this vital link for residents in Hillhouse, Fairhill and High Earnock.
“The uplift in passenger numbers prior to the pandemic demonstrates that demand can be restored for the X1 when restrictions fully lift. We will need clean, green buses in the future to help fight climate change and some more ambition from FirstBus can help build that sustainable future for public transport after coronavirus.”