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Transport / Trial set to offer greater bus capacity for Anderson pupils in South Mainland

Photo: Shetland News

ADDITIONAL bus service capacity providing connections from the South Mainland to the Anderson High School is to be trialled following complaints over provision at the start and end of the day.

It comes amid an 80 per cent increase in the number of pupils from the South Mainland using the public bus number six to travel to the Anderson.

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Some pupils are not entitled to school transport as the Anderson is outwith their catchment area, so they need to take a public service.

The trial, which was approved by members of transport partnership ZetTrans on Thursday, will run from 6 January to 1 July at a cost of £8,000.

It will ultimately see additional capacity between Sandwick and Lerwick in a bid to alleviate pressure on the 7.50am public bus, which is the only service that connects to the arriving first flight at Sumburgh Airport.

The most cost-effective method of providing additional capacity is to “upsize the existing dedicated school transport and change it to be a public service bus from Sandwick onwards”, members were told.

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A similar set-up will be put in place in the afternoons too.

The council’s transport contracts and operations officer Elaine Park told Thursday’s meeting that adults will be able to take the bus from Sandwick onwards, but there will be reduced stops so it may not be as attractive to people who are not pupils.

At the moment the current public bus timetable sees around 20 pupils arrive to school slightly late if they take the 7.50am service because unlike the 7.35am it does not go to go the Anderson bus area.

In the afternoon there is also concern about the number of people who need to stand on the busy public bus which connects to the Anderson.

Another factor in the mix is national plans to provide free bus travel to all under 22s from January onwards, which could in theory increase demand.

ZetTrans chairman Ryan Thomson admitted after reading the report he was left somewhat “baffled” by the complexities around introducing the service.

But he acknowledged that the trial is the most cost-effective proposal and moved that it be introduced.

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