A new local operator who saved a bus route providing a lifeline service reports huge success.

​​Last week the 101/2 Dumfries to Edinburgh route which provides a lifeline service through rural Clydesdale celebrated a year of being operated by Houstons Coaches of Lockerbie.
Dr Janet Moxley of the Campaign Group. Image: Helen BarringtonDr Janet Moxley of the Campaign Group. Image: Helen Barrington
Dr Janet Moxley of the Campaign Group. Image: Helen Barrington

The company stepped in to save the route when it looked like might be lost altogether with passengers facing an unfeasibly long alternative journey via Forth, Harthill Services and the M74.

Since taking over the route Houstons estimate that they have welcomed 176,000 passengers to the route which is served by Bus Lightyear, Arthurs Seat, Sir Stops-a-lot and Whitney, the four new Volvo MCV Evora buses purchased for the route last year and named by passengers. On the anniversary of taking on the route Houstons celebrated by offering free chocolates to passengers.

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And, in what is thought to be unique among public transport operations, a Facebook group for 101/2 bus users set up by Stand Up for Our Buses has more than 1,500 people communicating both the good and bad points of the daily service.Janet Moxley of campaign group Stand Up For Our Buses, said: “We are pleased that we still have a service on the 101/2 route and thank Houstons and their drivers and staff for the work they have done to keep this service running."Having more than 1,500 on the 101/2 Bus Users Facebook group is amazing and shows that there is a real sense of community on this route.

Houstons are delighted with how well the service is being receivedHoustons are delighted with how well the service is being received
Houstons are delighted with how well the service is being received

"The Facebook group allows passengers to keep each other informed not just about where the bus is, but about why it has been delayed. The 101/2 Bus User group proved its worth again just this weekend when buses had to divert around Dolphinton after power cables were brought down in high winds. Although delays and a few missed stops were inevitable as a result, passengers on the bus were able to keep those further along the route informed and save them having to wait longer than necessary at their stops in atrocious weather.

"The group has also been used to reunite passengers with lost luggage.”

She added: “Since the campaign to save the service in 2022, word has got out about the 101/2, and there would appear to be far more people using the service for trips out from Edinburgh. On a weekend, the bus can be packed, as many students have learned that the 101/2 service combined with their bus passes gives them free access to countryside areas such as the Pentland Hills.

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"This has got to be good for tourism in rural areas along the route and we hope that the high demand at weekends encourages Houstons to increase the service, particularly on Sundays when it is currently minimal.

“Stand Up for Our Buses is committed to making sure that we retain this important service going forward and are even daring to hope that improvements might be possible.”On a less positive note, some of the buses used on the 101/2 route were broken into while parked overnight in Biggar on Sat 6th April. The break-in occurred at 03:45 and the intruders, a group of two young males wearing dark north face jackets, another young male wearing a lighter jacket and a female were caught on CCTV. Anyone with any information about these break-ins should contact the police on 101 or email [email protected]