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Transport / Transport partnership keen to keep in ‘continuous dialogue’ with bus operators during virus outbreak

No change will be given on council buses.

SHETLAND’s transport partnership ZetTrans says it is maintaining close dialogue with bus operators amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The issue was raised by south mainland councillor Robbie McGregor at a meeting of the partnership on Monday.

Bus services, which are contracted out to local operators by ZetTrans, are running to their normal timetables.

ZetTrans chairman councillor Ryan Thomson said it is “prudent” for the partnership to keep in “continuous” dialogue with companies which run the public bus services.

He also noted, however, that public transport is likely to be used less as more people stay at home.

“These are unprecedented times, and it is clear that less and less people are requiring public transport as many are in self-isolation, along with people working from home wherever possible and attending less social functions,” Thomson said after the meeting.

“The bus contracts although designed to deal with issues around bad weather, are not designed to cope with global pandemics on this scale, therefore it is prudent that ZetTrans maintain continuous dialogue with bus operators to make sure we work together to combat any and all issues which has arisen so far, and may arise in the coming weeks and months ahead.”

ZetTrans, meanwhile is projected to overspend by around £90,000 this financial year.

A report presented to members confirmed that much of the projected overspend was due to expenditure on consultants working on transport network redesign business cases.

Included in the figures is a projected underspend of around £92,000 on the bus service due to lower contract costs and a lower uptake in ‘on demand’ services in rural areas.

Members also approved the ZetTrans budget for the next financial year, which includes a total of £4.229 million in revenue.

Shetland Islands Council is the primary funder of ZetTrans.

ZetTrans also intends to distribute up to £5,000 of its approved budget for the purposes of encouraging bicycle maintenance and usage.

This covers maintenance courses provided by the Shetland Bike Project for members of the public and through schools for pupils. It also covers small individual grants available to SIC staff for bicycle repairs, up to £50 per applicant.