Ferintosh Community Bus
Ferintosh 'Wee Bus' in SCA newsletter
Under the heading 'Transport innovation' the 13 July 2022 issue of the Scottish Community Alliance newsletter includes an article about the ground-breaking community bus service set up by Ferintosh Community Council and popularly known as the 'Wee Bus'.
Direct article link here or find the latest and previous SCA newsletters on the News tab at any time.
August 2022 update
Wee Bus at evenings and weekends delayed
We wrote in March that 'Volunteer drivers are now in place to enable a door-to-door service to be offered. To make a booking, call this dedicated evening and weekend number 07387 364541'.
Unfortunately, owing to the delay in installing the charging point at Culbokie, the volunteer-driven evening and weekend service is not yet fully in operation. However, thanks to the willingness of two of the bus mamagement team to act as special volunteer drivers, dome weekend and evening meetings have been possible - see accounts below.
Note that this is not the same as the numbers for Monday to Friday bookings 07519 722 456 / 07519 722 376.
Take the Wee Bus to the pub
When I heard some time ago that with the help of volunteer drivers the Ferintosh Community bus would be available for journeys in the evening and at weekends, it occurred to me that this would offer an opportunity to enjoy a meal and/or a drink or two at the Culbokie Inn without being constrained by the drink-driving limit. When I raised this possibility with Bruce more recently he agreed that it would be possible, pointed out that at present use of the bus by volunteer drivers was made difficult by the delay in installing the charging point at the Spar shop, and very kindly offered to drive the bus himself if we wanted to make a trial run. This we duly did, and last Friday night (29 July) my wife Marion and I met two friends from Dingwall and enjoyed a pleasant meal and drinks (in moderation, of course, but without anxiety) at the Culbokie Inn, thanks to the Wee Bus and Bruce as our special volunteer driver. It is an experience we shall certainly repeat when the charging point is installed and the volunteer drivers get into their stride.
The food was excellent but the service could have been better, and I was disappointed to find that the pub no longer keeps Cromarty cask ale on a hand pump. The reason given, as usual, was insufficient demand for the relatively short-life real ale, but over-cooled Happy Chappie from a keg is just not the same thing.
By bus to the community market
Following a suggestion from Bruce Morrison, I took the Ferintosh Wee (electric) Bus to Culbokie community market last Saturday. I was picked up at my road end by Shona Street, Chief Officer of Community Support and Information Ross-shire (which manages the community bus service on behalf of Highland Council), who was volunteer driver for the day. She took me in comfort the six miles or so to the market, and after I had done some shopping with my wife, who had taken advantage of the fine day to cycle to the market, she was ready and waiting to take me home. A wonderful service, and all for filling in a simple form and a very modest fare of £2.00 (or what you can afford). I can thoroughly recommend it, and with the service available in the evenings thanks to volunteer drivers, we are exploring the possibility of taking the bus to Culbokie Inn for a meal and a pint or two of real beer. [Sadly not to be, as it turned out later.]
My wife and I took the bus to Market again on a subsequent occasion, this time in company with Marge Donaldson and Jim Holden.
Ferintosh Community Council 'Wee Bus' launch with Kate Forbes
Monday 28 February 2022
From the Ross-shire Journal 6 March 2022 Hector MacKenzie
New community bus launches in Ferintosh Community Council area to provide door-to-door service on the Black Isle
Bruce Morrison, Councillor Allan Henderson, Allan Forsyth, MSP Kate Forbes and driver Frank Holmes. Picture: HITRANS
CULBOKIE character Allan Forsyth, for whom bus travel is a lifeline, was guest of honour at the launch of a new flexible door-to-door bus service on the Black Isle.
Allan was delighted to accept an invite by Ferintosh Community Council to join local MSP Kate Forbes at a ceremony in the Findon Hall, Culbokie, to mark the opening of the Wee Ferintosh Bus Service, which makes it easier for local residents to get about their community and connect to commercial scheduled bus services.
Allan received a special certificate from Ms Forbes for not only being the first local resident to use the bus but for offering such helpful feedback on the operation and timetable of the service.
Allan does not drive and is dependent on bus transport to get about, including to his work in Inverness with Tesco, who kindly granted him a day’s paid leave to attend.
Alison Lowe of Ferintosh Community Council said: “Allan’s interest, support, help and loyalty to bus services over many years has been recognised by all of us in the community and very much appreciated. It was no surprise to any of us that Allan was the first resident to take the opportunity to try out the new flexible service offered by the Wee Ferintosh Community Bus. We wish Allan many more happy journeys in the future.”
Ms Forbes said: “Despite being close to Dingwall as well as two major trunk road routes, in recent years this part of the Black Isle has not been particularly well-served with bus links. It is to the community’s credit for coming up with such an enterprising scheme, and I hope it will be well-used by local residents. I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a model that will be adopted by other Highland communities facing similar challenges in rural areas. I was delighted to be at the launch and trust the project will be a success.”
The demand-responsive service follows a successful pilot in the community. It allows permanent and temporary residents in the Ferintosh Community Council area to book journeys within the Black Isle - to and from their homes.
The bus is a 6-seater, wheelchair accessible, all electric multi-purpose vehicle which is available between 9.30 am – 4 pm, Monday to Friday. With effect during March 2022, the Ferintosh Community Bus will be available during the days and evenings, 7 days a week.
To book, users should telephone between 10am and 2pm, Monday to Friday at least 1 day in advance of a journey, although every effort will be made to accommodate same day requests. For the Monday to Friday daytime service, phone numbers are 07519 722456 or 07519 772376. For other journeys (from March 2022) the contact number is 07387 364541. The pay structure is ‘pay what you can’ for any Black Isle destinations, with a recommended £2 return fare (cash only).
Specifically, however, when connecting with Stagecoach buses at Tore Service Station to and from Inverness, then the complete journey’s fare will be paid on the Stagecoach bus and is the identical cost as the current subsidised 22 service (passengers should request that Ferintosh CB is used as the starting/destination point; all concessionary fares, including for the under 22’s, are available on this journey). Stagecoach has established a transfer point for FCB passengers at Tore Service Station (TSS). All the weekday daytime A9 buses (25, X25), north and south bound, divert into Tore Service Station.
FCC area residents can also link conveniently at Munlochy with Stagecoach’s 26 service (useful for a journey to North Kessock or eastwards towards Avoch, Fortrose, Rosemarkie) or at the Tore Roundabout bus stops (by walking from TSS) with other Stagecoach bus services heading west (25A, X28, 61, 27) to, for example, Muir of Ord, Dingwall, Strathpeffer, Contin, Garve etc. Residents can also be linked with the 21 service to Dingwall at suitable stops within the FCC area.
Ferintosh Community bus update
There have been several developments since the service started in June. A small electric bus has been introduced to provide the service, with bright yellow livery and "Wee Bus" logo selected by local consultation, and a new leaflet prepared, with booking information and a timetable of Stagecoach links between Tore Service Station and Inverness. The small size of the bus requires users to become members of the scheme, which can be done by completing a simple form on their first journey. A team of volunteer drivers has been recruited to enable the service to operate in the evenings and at weekends.
In a further recent consultation, over 90% of a fairly small number of respondents agreed that the community bus should become a permanent part of public transport provision in the Ferintosh Community Council area, and this was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the council on 12 January.
Bruce Morrison, Ferintosh CC Secretary and the driving force behind the project, has prepared a new update reviewing progress to date and the likely future of the project.
Bruce Morrison, Frank Holmes, FCB Driver, Community Support & Information Ross-Shire (CSIR), and Shona Street, Chief Officer, CSIR, with the 'Wee Bus'.
Ferintosh Community bus starts 28 June
Bruce Morrison, Secretary of Ferintosh Community Council, writes
Our very own Ferintosh Community Bus starts on Monday. I've attached a press release that is about to go out together with the final leaflet explaining the details of this new way of delivering public bus transport to our area.
New flexible community bus service introduced on Black Isle
A new flexible bus service in the Ferintosh Community Council area of the Black Isle is being introduced from Monday 28 June, making it easier for local residents to use public transport. The demand responsive service will operate between 9.30 am – 4.15 pm, Monday to Friday, and complement the scheduled peak services on Service 22 to Inverness that will continue to be operated by Stagecoach.
[Note that the 22 service is reduced and will only run at peak times, ie not between 09.20 and 14.06 from Culbokie and 08.55 and 14.40 from Inverness. All A9 services 25, 25A, X25 now divert to Tore Service Station ('Tore Services' on the timetables) to connect with the Community Bus. You can view and download timetables for all Black Isle and Easter Ross services from 28 June here ].
It will take residents to and from Tore Service Station where passengers can join any of Stagecoach’s mainline A9 buses. Passengers can also book journeys between any two points within the Ferintosh Community Council area. Just like an ordinary bus, it is available to all residents in (and visitors to) the Ferintosh Community Council area, which includes Culbokie in the east to Mulbuie in the west, Mulbuie Ridge in the south down to the Cromarty Firth in the north).
All journeys, including concessionary travel, will be no more costly than current fixed route journeys, even although the journey to /from Inverness is a two bus journey The National Entitlement Card can be used with this service. The cost of a bus journey is very much lower than the fuel and parking costs of a private vehicle or a taxi fare.
Download the leaflet (updated September 2021)
Congratulations are due to Bruce and those who have helped him in getting this innovative service set up. Now it is up to the people of the Ferintosh CC area to use it.
Ferintosh CC community bus consultation
Bruce Morrison, Ferintosh Community Council Secretary, writes
Attached is a consultation paper on what we hope you will think is an interesting new way of providing access for you to public and community bus transport for those living in our FCC area. We're reviewing your feedback at the FCC monthly meeting a week on Monday (21st September).
A summary of the document is below
Residents of the Ferintosh Community Council (FCC) area, if supportive, will be able to trial a new public and community bus service model. If the trial over 16 months is successful, then the service will provide the possibility of journeys on all seven days and evenings as guided by the requests and needs of residents. ‘Door to door’ journeys on request will be possible. Journeys that link into all the A835 /A9 mainline commercial bus services will be possible. More efficient use of a smaller electric vehicle will be possible. Lower running costs securing more certainty for existing limited services will be possible.
The consultation paper goes into more detail of the model enabling FCC to ask residents their initial views of this approach (please complete the short questionnaire at the end). FCC is seeking views in time for its monthly meeting at 7pm on Monday 21st September 2020. If residents are broadly supportive, then a more detailed consultation with journeys and timetabling, fare and communication logistics and responses to initial queries will take place within a month. If residents’ feedback is broadly positive from that second consultation then Stage 1 of this pilot will go ahead. A Stage 2 of the pilot is envisaged and will be the subject of a later consultation.
Additional consultation question added 18 September
Many thanks for your responses so far. In considering those for Monday's FCC meeting, I realise that more information from non-users would be valuable. So I'd like now to add this supplementary question for the vast majority of us who don't currently use (or rarely use) buses:
In the future, if you were unable to access private transport, which of the following two options would you be most likely to favour? Move house for easier access to the services you need /enjoy? Remain in your current house and use public transport (e.g. Ferintosh Community Bus)?
- Sunday 25 September
- NA NOW FULLY BOOKED Highland Good Food Gathering
- Monday 26 September
- NA Scotland's Climate Week to 2 October
- Wednesday 28 September
- 09:00 Landworkers Alliance - Building better food systems
- Thursday 29 September
- 09:00 Landworkers Alliance - Building better food systems
- Friday 30 September
- 10:00 Trellis Green Health seminar and AGM
- Saturday 1 October
- 10:00 Postponed MOO Food Harvest Festival
- Sunday 2 October
- 14:00 Black Isle Food Festival CANCELLED
- Wednesday 5 October
- 09:00 Cycling Scotland conference 2022
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