Bus information and timetables

Black Isle and Inverness bus service changes January 2019

Consultation closes Friday 16 November.

A range of changes is proposed to Black Isle and Inverness bus services, to take effect in January 2019.  The main element of the changes is the transfer of all but one of the public service contracts currently held by D&E Coaches to Stagecoach, together with mainly minor changes to some services, including a slightly improved commuter service between Inverness and Culbokie.  This takes the form of a direct service via Tore from Culbokie to Inverness at 07.50 and a return leaving Inverness at 17.35.  (View all the Black Isle timetables here and look for service 22).

There has been a later update to the timetables for services 21 Dingwall-Cromarty and 22 Inverness-Culbokie.  Differences from the full draft timetable linked to above are shown in red.  The main points about these changes are:

  • Cromarty to Dingwall – Timing adjustments to accommodate the earlier closure on Fridays at Dingwall academy.
  • Inverness to Culbokie - Timing adjustments to accommodate the earlier closure on Fridays at Dingwall academy.
  • Also the introduction of experimental direct commuter service from Culbokie to Inverness. This is a service which Stagecoach will be operating on a commercial basis – and will continue subject to usage."

Information on the changes has been published in a press release from Stagecoach on 2 November, together with summary details for individual services.

The Press & Journal published an article on the proposed changes on 3 November.

A consultation on the proposed changes has now started and is open until Friday 16 November - so you don't have very long to check them out and submit your views.  Links to draft timetables for all the affected routes can be found here, together with information on how to take part in the consultation, which is reproduced below.

Bruce Morrison, Secretary of Ferintosh Community Council, has submitted a response to the consultation to be submitted by FCC.

"All proposed timetables are available to download from the links below.  Feedback can be given via email to nscotmarketing@stagecoachbus.com, by post to Inverness Bus Station marked FAO Timetable Consultation.  All feedback received will be reviewed ahead of the proposals being finalised for completing the official registration process with the Traffic Commissioner.  Following the consultation, the final timetables will be available to download from Monday 17th December and printed copies will be available in the Travel Shop between Christmas and New Year."


March 2018 
'Dolphin Shuttle' bus service to Chanonry Point

A new shuttle bus service is to run from Fortrose and Rosemarkie to Chanonry Point, with the aim of reducing traffic congestion and parking problems at the popular dophin-watching location.  The new service, an initiative of Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council, will be operated by D&E Coaches and run from Easter to the end of August.

More details.

Ross-shire Journal  Friday 2 March 2018

A SHUTTLE bus linking the Black Isle communities of Fortrose and Rosemarkie could ease pressure on a chronic congestion blackspot and provide a boost to local businesses into the bargain.  The Dolphin Shuttle bus idea masterminded by Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council is set to be launched at the beginning of next month and has already been hailed “a great idea” by the MSP for the area.

The car park at Chanonry Point has been a magnet for visitors keen to spot the resident colony of bottlenose dolphins for which the area has gained a worldwide reputation.   But peak-time summer congestion has irked locals and presented a potential hazard in terms of access for emergency vehicles.  Hopes are high that the new bus service, which will be run by D&E coaches and launched over the Easter weekend, could become a permanent fixture and provide a “dolphin dividend” to local businesses.

Sarah Atkin, chairwoman of Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council, said: “After last year it was clear the situation at Chanonry Point couldn’t continue.  Not only was it horrendous for residents, visitors and golfers, the congestion became a public safety issue.  Something had to be done and a shuttle bus was one obvious way of reducing car use. 

“The idea was canvassed to D&E coaches, who run the schools contract, for the peak summer months. They came back with a better plan to invest in a service for the whole season; running from the Easter weekend until the end of August.  It’s been a bit of a push to get decisions made and all the legal boxes ticked in time but we’ve done it. 

“The hope is that not only will this relieve congestion at Chanonry Point, it will also see our local businesses gaining a ‘dolphin dividend’ as visitors are brought back to Fortrose or Rosemarkie after their dolphin experience.”

MSP Kate Forbes, whose constituency includes the Black Isle, said:  “This is a great idea, particularly for visitors.  It’s clear why so many people choose to visit the area and that is to see dolphins and seals.  The more people that get out of their cars and share transport, the better.  It relieves congestion, reduces car emissions and supports another bus service.  It is this kind of creative thinking that we need to see right across the Highlands.”

The service will run [from Rosemarkie – Fortrose – Chanonry Point and return by the same route.]


February 2018  Timetable changes consultation

Consultation is open until Sunday 18 February on changes to Stagecoach services on the Black Isle proposed to be introduced from 16 April 2018. 

Information about proposed changes and drafts of the new timetables can be viewed  here, and any feedback should be emailed to  nscotmarketing@stagecoachbus.com .

The timetable currently effective can be viewed or downloaded  here.

October  2017    Culbokie service developments

September 2017    More activity on Culbokie service

August 2017    Half-hourly Inverness - Fortrose service restored

August 2017   Culbokie bus service  progress(?) report

See items below timetables

June 2017  -  Latest timetables

Stagecoach and D&E have both produced updated timetables this month, Stagecoach effective from 12 June and D&E (some services only) from 5 June.

See the notes below on the April timetables for notes on the main changes introduced at that time.  The main change since then is the re-timing of the D&E morning Cromarty-Dingwall 405 service, in order to connect with the Stagecoach 07.29 Invergordon-Inverness 25U service at Duncanston crossroads.  Click here for a summary of these connecting services.

All updated Stagecoach Black Isle timetables from 12 June are published as a single document, available as a pdf download or as a printed booklet from Inverness Bus Station or from drivers on the buses.  [But note August changes to services 26 and 28].

The following D&E services have been updated from 5 June.  Click on the service number to download the timetable.  All D&E services for the Black Isle and Inverness can be found at  http://www.decoaches.co.uk/timetables/ , and services introduced or changed in April at 'April 2017 - new timetables . .' below.

405     Inverness - Cromarty - Culbokie - Dingwall

420     Inverness – North Kessock -Tore – Fortrose Academy
            (Mon – Fri School Days Only)  

421     Fortrose Academy – Rosemarkie – Avoch Primary – Inverness
            (Mon – Fri School Days Only)

424     Inverness – Cromarty – Fortrose Academy (Mon – Fri School Days Only)

425     Inverness – St. Martins Crossroads – Jemimaville – Fortrose Academy
            (Mon – Fri School Days Only)


October  2017    Culbokie service developments

From the minutes of the 16 October meeting of Ferintosh Community Council:

ACTIVE PROJECTS: Buses: Evelyn reported that THC has sent the bus shelter dimensions to BEAR for installation in a few months time. THC closed applications for tendering a commuter bus service for Culbokie on 29 September. The results of the tender will be published towards the end of December. Evelyn met with Sheila Fletcher to hear more about the potential plans to extend the community car scheme. Evelyn has also written to the Traffic Commissioner to highlight the absence of a commuter service. SUSTRANS has just published a national report on travel poverty (where costs exceed 10% of income) and other disadvantages with Culbokie identified as a prime example and a future case study. Culbokie Action Group gained invaluable PR with exposure on both BBC and STV and were congratulated on the effectiveness of their campaign. Further lobbying to Cllr Gordon Adam would be carried out as well as to Kate Forbes and Rhoda Grant (Action: Evelyn). Citizens Advice Bureau is conducting a Scotland Your Bus, Your Say campaign into which FCC councillors will make their individual contributions.


September 2017    More activity on Culbokie service

From the minutes of the 18 September meeting of Ferintosh Community Council:

BUSES: Evelyn reported on the recent activity by residents /FCC /Councillors /MSP /THC to find a way of providing safe and sustainable commuter services for Culbokie residents. Representatives from THC and Hi Trans together with Cllr Fraser and Kate Forbes MSP made the commuter journey from Duncanston to Inverness to experience at first hand the uncomfortable, unsafe and unreliable current provision. Stagecoach submitted a cost for re-instating the A9 diversion through Culbokie but the cost was considered prohibitive by THC. In the next few weeks THC is completing a community services tender and in parallel, the Black Isle Community Car Scheme is being offered a mini bus and driver training to see whether BICCS can put together an acceptable service. The outcomes of those two approaches will be quickly reviewed by FCC to then agree both a response and further action.

August 2017    Half-hourly Inverness - Fortrose service restored

From Fortrose and Rosemarkie Community Council website     4 August 2017

No 26 Bus Route

Highland Council has awarded a contract to Stagecoach to enhance the bus service between Fortrose and Inverness to half hourly.  This has been made possible using developer contributions from the new housing.  Funding will only be available to support the contract for one year.  It is hoped that after this the route will become commercially viable.

As a consequence of this contract award, Stagecoach has also decided to remove the North Kessock diversion from the Cromarty buses for most of the day (peak hour Cromarty buses will still divert into North Kessock) and instead provide a separate service for North Kessock.

The draft timetable may be viewed and downloaded here ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August 2017   Culbokie bus service  progress(?) report

The following is an extract from the minutes of the meeting of Ferintosh Community Council held on 21 August 2017, which was attended by David Summers, Transport Development Officer for Highland Council, and where the village's case for better bus services was put by Community Councillor Evelyn Campbell.

BUSES: David Summers, Transport Development Officer, Highland Council, attended this Community Council meeting to respond to requests for information and an update on the ongoing situation with the lack of peak time provision of bus services between Culbokie and Inverness. 

Evelyn began by outlining the situation to date and put forward the following points:
1) Once THC found out that Culbokie would no longer have a lifeline service this information was not passed back to the committee for further consideration.
2) A FOI request for a list of all subsidised services shows that Culbokie is not being treated equally to other areas.
3) The recent HiTrans Regional Strategy states that rural communities must have safe and reliable lifeline services.  Even with the interim provision from D and E Coaches, Culbokie does not have this.
4) Could the South Side of the Black Isle, which currently has half hourly buses to Inverness, have the Service reduced to allow the re introduction of the Culbokie Service?
5) Could we lose the two published services from Inverness in to the village at 7.20am and 7.25am and have them replaced at more crucial times?
6) Mr. Summers had advised Evelyn that a paper would go to the Places Committee to apprise them of the situation and consider allocation of a new service or a community option.  This did not happen.
7) A community transport option has been explored, without consultation with the community.  It is believed this would not start until January and would only provide a service to A9 similar to the one currently provided by D and E.  People will still have to stand on the edge of the slip road to the A9 with no pavement, lighting or shelter.  An already dangerous situation that is set to increase as we head in to the shorter days.
Evelyn, as a Community Councillor representing residents, feels that Highland Council need to accept responsibility for not providing committee with accurate information and need to resolve the situation by providing a safe and equitable service to the people of Culbokie.  Following a conversation with Kate Forbes MSP at her recent surgery in Culbokie, she is happy to give us her support.

Mr. Summers was invited to respond to the above points, and explain what he and his dept. have put in to place to resolve matters.
1) The information that Culbokie would no longer have a lifeline service was not passed back to committee as no further committee meetings took place prior to the change in timetable.
2) Losing the two published services at 7.20am and 7.25am would not save a penny as they are already part of the cost of the contract.  If these buses don’t appear in the timetable then grant funding would be withdrawn.
3) The hourly service on the South Side of the Black Isle is a commercial service, not a subsidised service.
4) The re-introduction of half hourly buses on the South Side of the Black Isle is as a result of developer funding.
5) If a reduction in the middle of the day, or the loss of the Saturday service were a possibility, then it may be possible to re introduce peak hour buses.
6) Highland Council have asked Stagecoach for a quote to reinstate the service and a price for providing a separate bus, but no decisions can be made on these until committee meet.
7) Discussions with Community Car scheme have taken place, with the suggestion that Highland Council would provide them with a bus that would take people to and from Inverness.  There is the possibility of a paid driver, or a definite pool of volunteers to run the bus so that residents would not be left high and dry if a volunteer driver called in sick or had to take time off.

With the Places Committee not meeting again until 8/11/17 and even allowing for the possibility of options being discussed at the Area Meeting on 25/10/17 this did not answer what Highland Council intended to do now.

Cllr Barclay raised the possibility of an emergency meeting being held, but Mr. Summers felt this was highly unlikely to happen.  Highland Council are committed to providing a bus shelter, but require agreement from BEAR Scotland.


TBI and Public Meeting response to April 2017 timetable changes

The commuter bus service from Culbokie to Inverness provided by the diversion of some morning and evening Inverness-Tain 25X and 25U services through the village, is set to end shortly.

In response to this and other changes to Black Isle bus services due to come into effect on 24 April, TBI Convenor Martin Sherring wrote to Highland Council's Transport Devrlopment Officer to protest about the cuts on behalf of TBI, and the Culbokie Action Group called a public meeting in Culbokie on 20 April.  Representatives from Highland Council and D&E Coaches were present, but the intended representative from Stagecoach was unable to attend owing to illness.

Read Martin's letter to David Summers.

There was a positive outcome to the public meeting in the form of a proposal from D&E Coaches that it might be possible to provide an indirect commuter service by using D&E's new 405 Dingwall – Cromarty service to connect with the 25X at Duncanston crossroads.  It appeared that a connection could be made with existing timings in the evening and this service could therefore start on 24 April, but that the first morning service leaving Cromarty at 07.37 would need to be re-timed slightly later, and it might take up to four weeks for this change to a contracted service to be authorised.  D&E  and Highland Council would discuss urgently the action necessary to bring this service into being.  D&E also offered to provide an additional bus to connect with the 25U to the UHI campus, for the benefit of students, but this may not be necessary if the re-timed Cromarty – Dingwall service connects with the 25U anyway.


More details on the changes originally proposed from 24 April are given below.

April 2017  -  New timetables again

Timetable changes proposed by Stagecoach, with minimal consultation, in February, are due to come into effect on 24 April.

The main changes are that Culbokie loses the commuter service which was provided by the diversion of some Inverness – Tain services through the village, Stagecoach 21 and 22 services are taken over by D&E Coaches, and the 26 service from Fortrose to Inverness is reduced.

Services 25X and 25U  Inverness - Tain
These services will no longer run via Culbokie at morning and evening times which provided a commuter service between Culbokie and Inverness, which will no longer be available.

Previous service 21 Dingwall – Cromarty
Stagecoach service 21 becomes D&E service 405Download timetable.
Instead of the 'demand responsive' service offered by Stagecoach, under which the routes of some buses could be altered by prior demand, the 12.05 and 14.05 departures from Dingwall and the 09.25 and 13.10 from Cromarty will run via Resolis and Culbokie on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and via Fortrose, Munlochy and Tore on Tuesday and Thursday.  Afternoon services to Culbokie and Resolis seem largely unchanged, with variations for school holidays.  A new early and late service is introduced from Inverness to Cromarty at 06.45 and Cromarty to Inverness at 18.40.
This is not an easy timetable to understand.

Previous service 22 Inverness – Culbokie
Stagecoach service 22 becomes D&E service 408.  Download timetable.
This service is similar to 22, but late afternoon departures from Inverness at 17.40 and Culbokie at 18.10 have been dropped.

D&E service 408A  Culbokie–Resolis School  schooldays only.  Download timetable.

Service 26 Inverness – Cromarty
The main change here is that Stagecoach have dropped the additional half-hourly service from Fortrose, reducing to an hourly service over the whole route.  The 20.24 departure from Inverness is re-timed to 20.20, which increases the likely difficulty of connecting with the London train, and the 23.24 departure is dropped.
This is replaced by D&E service 410 at the same time.  Download timetable.

All new Stagecoach Black Isle timetables from 24 April are published as a single document, available as a pdf download or as a printed booklet from Inverness Bus Station or from drivers on the buses.


Traveline Scotland provides information about all Stagecoach Highland services and all Scottish bus operators.  Unfortunately most people will find the Traveline timetables difficult to read because of the small size of the type.  Stagecoach timetables are better.

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