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Comment: 'Knightswood was cut adrift of West End in the Great bus route shake-up'

Some parts of the city have ben affected more than others by the recent change to bus services.

On October 23 last year, First Greater Glasgow scrapped a section of the 4/4A bus route which went from Eaglesham to Knightswood.

The route had provided a vital link between the city’s western suburbs and the areas around Hyndland and Glasgow University.

Now the 4A terminates in Broomhill, cutting off Knightswood, Anniesland, and Kelvindale.

In Knightswood, the 4/4A buses were replaced by the X4, which runs to the City Centre via Jordanhill and the Clyde Expressway, while Kelvindale received a new service called the M4 that ran a circular route between Anniesland and Kelvindale.

 Lost out? Knightswood has lost its direct link to Hyndland and Glasgow University.
Lost out? Knightswood has lost its direct link to Hyndland and Glasgow University.

The service reductions caught residents and politicians by surprise.

Bob Doris, MSP for Kelvindale, recalled that he only found out about it when he ran into Ken Windsor, secretary of Kelvindale Community Council, in Maryhill Tesco. Ken said to him: “Did you hear about the buses?”

Residents had no notice at bus stops, in their mailboxes, or at local schools or shops.

“Bus companies have no statutory duty to notify anyone of changes and no obligation to consult communities,” Bob explained.

At the time and since, First Greater Glasgow said it had been working for several years to revitalise the routes, but fewer people were using them.

Uphill: Bus service takes the strain on a steep section of Cleveden Road.

A First Bus spokesperson said: “First Glasgow undertook a number of actions in our efforts to improve customer uptake dating back to 2009 and this included a local consultation in early 2013.”

There were meetings in 2013, but Ken said of these: “The consultation/meeting was to discuss the axing of the evening service only. There was no consultation on the axing of the complete service.”

Communities rallied when it became clear that the route was under threat.

By the second week of October, Valerie Gauld, a Kevindale householder, had created a Change.org petition that received more than 3000 signatures.

Meanwhile, Bob, Ken, and city councillor John Letford, and Kelvindale Community Council spearheaded a cross-party coalition of MPs, MSPs, and councillors, to approach the bus company with their concerns.

First Greater Glasgow declined to reinstitute the 4A, but it agreed to a revision of the M4 route.

No one had liked the Anniesland-Kevindale circular, describing it as “a joke,” and First conceded, on a "use it or lose it basis", to run the M4 as an hourly service from Anniesland to the Partick Interchange via Byres Road.

Bob Doris and John Letford both hope that usage data over the coming months will support an argument to increase the service.

In Knightswood, however, no-one spoke up or organised protests and petitions.

The area has been deprived of its direct public transport link to the university and Hyndland, with no viable replacements on the horizon.

A First Greater Glasgow spokesperson suggested transferring from the 16 to the 4A, but a review of the timetables shows only one bus per hour where the wait between them is less than twenty minutes.

Otherwise the journey takes more than an hour, including over twenty minutes of standing at the bus stop.

He also suggested the M4, but that too is an hourly service, and neither the 16 nor the M4 run in the evening.

Watch: Back in September, Campaigner Valerie Gauld was among those who fought for a Kelvindale service.

The last 16 leaves Drumchapel at 7:21pm, the last M4 leaves Anniesland at 6:38pm, so anyone going out to socialise or working late has to look for alternative buses, or a taxi.

James Newton, a PhD student at Glasgow University who lives in Knightswood, said: “If you have to wait ten or fifteen minutes or walk between stops, or the timing is a hassle, you’ll take your car if you have one, won’t you?”

* Emily Donoho is a writer who lives in Knightswood with her partner.

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