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ZetTrans approves bus timetable changes

TRANSPORT partnership ZetTrans has approved a series of alterations to Shetland’s bus timetables to tie in with new secondary school hours coming into force in May.

There are slight changes to timetables on routes affecting the south and west mainland areas, as well as Yell.

In February councillors voted to adopt a common timetable for all secondary schools in the islands, which will mean longer days from Monday to Thursday and an earlier finish on Fridays.

The changes were unanimously approved by the committee at a meeting on Friday morning.

While there is no cost implication for ZetTrans itself, committee members heard that the changes would mean Shetland Islands Council incurs additional costs of £50,000 in 2018/19.

The timetable changes were agreed by councillors back on 21 February – with the changes to the school day having a knock-on effect on public bus services linking in with schools.

ZetTrans lead officer Michael Craigie said the transport partnership had used “every opportunity right up to the wire” to minimise the additional costs.

The west mainland number 12 bus will leave the Anderson High School at 3.55pm, 20 minutes later than at present, while there will also be an impact on services linking into Aith, Walls and Skeld.

The mid-afternoon number 6 bus will leave Sandwick at 3.45pm instead of 3.30pm and will consequently arrive at the Viking Bus Station at 4.24pm rather than 4.09pm.

The 24Y bus from Mid Yell School to Cullivoe will also depart 15 minutes later at 3.55pm from Monday-Thursday, and then at 2.15pm on Fridays, while the number 30 service from Mid Yell to West Sandwick will also be altered.

Craigie and other officials told the committee that “many different methods”, including advertising, contacting parents of schoolchildren and reprinting timetables, would be deployed to ensure the changes are communicated clearly to the public.

Committee chairman Ryan Thomson said afterwards: “We’ve decided to slightly alter the public bus timetable, and put on dedicated provision bus service for the school bairns going home.

“Through a consultation we weren’t able to adjust the general public bus timetable to accommodate the return home journey for the south mainland bairns, so we’re putting on dedicated provision there.

“It comes at a cost to the SIC, but the costs are relatively minimal, and the bus service is sorted for the new school timetable.”