Falkirk Bus Links for FVRH Confirmed

Details of the future NHS supported bus arrangements, which will provide links from parts of Falkirk to Forth Valley Royal Hospital, were confirmed today. The existing H3, H4, H4a and H5 services will end on 18th August 2013, when the contract for these services expires. Following a recent retendering exercise, revised arrangements, which involve changes to a number of other existing services, will come into force to improve connections to the hospital. A new Forth Valley Royal Hospital FirstDay ticket will also be introduced, delivering significant benefits to many residents in the Falkirk council area.

From 19th August 2013, journeys on services 6 and 7 services operated by First Bus will be extended to provide enhanced connections from Dunipace, Bonnybridge, Dennyloanhead and Denny. These services will also continue to provide direct links to the hospital, every 10 minutes, from Falkirk, Bainsford, Carron, Carronshore, Stenhousemuir and Larbert Rail Station.

A number of existing commercial bus services will also continue to provide direct links from Falkirk Town Centre, Camelon, Larbert, Grangemouth, Polmont and Bo’ness (services 6, 7, 19, 38, 59, 60 & X38), with service 1 providing a frequent connection between Maddiston and Brightons and Falkirk Town Centre. Falkirk Council also provides supported bus services, which will link Skinflats (F15) and Fankerton (E21) with Falkirk Town Centre and Larbert, respectively.

In addition, First Bus also plans to introduce a new through-ticketing scheme which will enable passengers to travel from any location in the Falkirk Council area to Forth Valley Royal Hospital for a fixed introductory price of £4.50 day return on First Group buses. This will make it simpler, more convenient and, in many cases cheaper, for passengers to connect with a range of bus services which link directly with the hospital.

These revised arrangements follow on from a review of the existing  supported NHS bus services which found that the majority (around two-thirds) of trips on the H3, H4, H4a and H5 services were not being made to and from the hospital and some parts of the route were only attracting around one passenger a day.  In addition, parts of the existing NHS supported route are now served by commercial buses and the continuation of a supported service which competes with these buses is not a good use of NHS resources and could also potentially lead to commercial services being withdrawn from the Falkirk area.

Tom Steele, NHS Forth Valley’s Director of Strategic Property and Facilities, said:

 The initial NHS supported bus services were intended to run for three years to encourage people to use public transport. It was always our intention at the end of this period to review usage levels and take into account other transport developments and changes during this time.

“Since the hospital opened, several commercial bus services have been introduced which provide direct links with the hospital and there are a number of other supported bus services which provide connections from several local towns and villages across Falkirk. There are also regular connections from a number of key hubs, including Falkirk Bus Station, where a bus leaves for the hospital at least every 10 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytime.

“These revised bus arrangements take account of the public transport changes and improvements made over the last three years. The new through ticketing scheme will also enable patients, staff and visitors from across the entire Falkirk council area to access the hospital with one ticket.”

The revised NHS supported bus arrangements for the Falkirk area will come into force on 19th August 2013 when the contract for the existing services expires. The new contract will run for a three year period and will be monitored and reviewed annually.