‘Bus station closure would save £80,000 a year’

15 comments, , by , in News

Councillors will this week be asked to close the Viking Bus Station in a bid to save almost £80,000 a year from the public purse.

A report before Friday’s environment and transport committee recommends shutting down the waiting room and adjacent freight centre and relocating to the SIC’s Gremista depot stores.

It also recommends selling or leasing the centre and waiting room to “achieve best value for the council”.

One full time and one part time job would be lost by the measures.

The freight centre has long-since been used as a delivery and collection hub for people placing items for onward travel by bus, to haulage companies collecting packages.

However the report, by the SIC’s team leader of transport operations, David Polson, says the majority of usage is from commercial business to commercial business.
“In effect the council is running a subsidised distribution centre for the commercial freight industry,” it states.

The report sets out a number of options considered before reaching recommendation for closure.

These include retaining the bus station and freight centre “as is”; continuing to man the waiting room while closing the freight centre or “significantly” increasing the rate per item at the freight centre from 20p to £1.

However only closing the building would help make the necessary savings.

Closing and relocating, the report says, would realise a potential saving of £79,961. Leasing the property would out would realise a revenue return.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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15 comments

  1. Barbara Gray

    Is this not another attack on the rural communities by closing the waiting room.
    Have they decided where folk are supposed to wait for buses, in bad weather, with shopping, what about those with mobility problems.
    The Council have had a go at ferries, rural schools, gritting and now the bus station what next?
    If they want to pit town versus country they are going the right way about it.

    Reply
  2. Susan Bowie

    I agree its a disgrace. This will really inconvenience the poor, the old, those coming in from the cold and the young. All those who don’t drive. We are supposed to be encouraging public transport, encouraging folk to come to hospital appointments by bus rather than taxis– .
    I was very glad of that bus station the last time I went on a bus, for somewhere to sit for an hour with my luggage. Do they expect flames grills and bites to take that role on? What about luggage?
    What kind of very rural community doesn’t have a bus station? A warm place to sit? With a toilet?
    This is a core service , not a frill.

    Reply
  3. Frances Hurley

    This is depressing news. The staff at the bus station are most helpful and the waiting room importantly provides shelter from inclement weather as well as somewhere comfortable to sit. The waiting room also usefully provides secure lockers to store shopping and/or luggage. It is a valuable asset for folk dependant upon public transport, especially those in rural areas or up in the Northern Isles, and a central point of access to and from Lerwick for exploring tourists.

    Reply
  4. Bob Leaper

    Gremista is a long way to go to leave your shopping, Would it not be possible to set aside somewhere in Mareel as it would give folk from the rural areas an insight into how the place looks, and also give something back to those who cannot manage to make use of it otherwise?

    Reply
  5. Susan Bowie
  6. Katie Johnson

    Very disappointed with SIC but then should have expected nothing less from them. They don’t think on any member of the public (especially including those with mobility problems) as long as there are sorted. Damnable that they have to close everything with importance, in some way or another, to make the money they spent back, shouldn’t have squandered it in the first place.

    Reply
  7. Stewart Mack

    Another typical example of the ineptitude and incompetence that faces everyday Shetland life. Priorities? The priorities of the SIC seem to be attacking the weak, the vulnerable and those that they think (and i use the term loosely) wont fight back! But lets take a step back for a moment -£80,000? How does it cost £80,000 to operate the Viking Bus Station? Why does it always “cost” the SIC ridiculous amounts of money for the slightest little thing? then, when closed they will realise that the savings “were not at the level anticipated”, but the service will be lost! If the majority of freight is for business then up the rates to £1 as suggested, thats still fairly cheap for commercial carriage. The minority that is private use, should remain at the lower levels. Remember we could have 7 and a half Viking bus stations for the same amount as the Council just gave to the Mareel as “working capital”, not a loan not a grant – Priorities? it would be funny if it wasnt so serious, Councillors should once more hang their heads in shame

    Reply
  8. ian tinkler

    Bob Leiper may have a point.If the facilities of the bus station were transferred to Mareel, not only at last would Mareel perform a useful civic function, but the £80K annual saving could be written down against the £600K dept that Shetland Arts owes Shetland Island Council. Mareel could be solvent in 8 years or so. That way even I might support Mareel!

    Reply
  9. David Spence

    I know there is a limited pot of money and every department has to do thier bit, however in these times it is making more and more sense to hark back to the old days of “Da Cooncil” being just that – no more departmental cross-charging taking up hours of needless time etc

    And to get to my point – why not combine the likes of Freefield with the Bus Station? Save the £80k earmarked but still have somewhere for the old folks to socialise and the travellers to shelter.

    Reply
  10. douglas young

    “We are, in effect subsidising commercial freight distribution”.
    The SIC is spending a fortune running Sella Ness when this should be put out to competitive tendering, and subsidising Tingwall Airport when we have two perfectly good airports at Sumburgh and Scatsta. They operate three individual ferries for Out Skerries, Papa and Foula with a combined population of less than 100.

    Reply
  11. I thought the idea was to encourage people to use public transport not much of an incentive to walk the streets of Lerwick with your bags full of food, may as well use the car, thats if you own a car !

    What with the clickaman camping site going to close and know the only bus station on the Island, where will shoppers wait for the bus and what about the tourists who use the left luggage and the buses to tour the islands.

    I feel the SIC has not got a grip on its financial dilemma, these are core elements in a town that are well used, continue like this and Lerwick will die on its feet.

    As the reader mentioned above, open Mareel to the public to use as a waiting room and perhaps they will have a cup of tea there as well.

    Reply
  12. Tommy Robertson

    Mareel is already open to be used while waiting for a bus, and going there for a cuppa is exactly what I have done several times since it opened.

    No reason for it not to be used for this purpose, during the daytime there is plenty of parking for the busses between runs, and while we’re at it as another comment suggested why not close Freefield and have the old folks come to Mareel to socialise, maybe even hand down a few tunes.

    Its a modern, well equipped, accessible building, why not use it to the full.

    Reply
  13. Albie Redshaw

    When every household is cutting back on expenditure most of us will look at our ‘Wants’ and our ‘Needs’. Our needs must come first, food, heating, work, travel to get to shops to feed us. Our wants maybe a new car or plasma tv, but we will have to wait for better times when we can afford. I think the SIC has forgotten the basics at times like now they should be looking after the essentials, transport, ferries, local schools. In the old times we would ‘make do and mend’ when money was tight, do we really need a new Anderson?, could this not wait, I have seen may a school south in a far worse condition. Shetland needs its bus station, it is a meeting place and somewhere warn to wait for a bus on an poor day of weather. I do not envy the councillors having to vote on such things but they can vote against closure and make SIC think again. Shetland can look forward to income in the future from the Gas and Oil, until then maybe we should be using some of the reserves for its basic needs after all that’s what it was set up for.

    Reply
  14. george williamson

    20p is not a figure for carriage it is just a fee for leaving a parcel till somebody else collects it and then charges for delivery

    Reply
  15. Johan Adamson

    The SIC seem to be outsourcing the essential services (like we are all going to be doing our own gritting using the heaps of blue dust at the sides of the road, and the taxis will take over the frieght service), but they are keeping the more glamorous (?) businesses they run (the quarry, the airport, the wages services for some of the the Trusts; supporting the trusts to run leisure centres, a restaurant, a cinema, etc). Have they forgotten what a island council’s role is supposed to be? Other businesses cant compete with the public sector ones so disappear, and other businesses cant find buyers, because everyone works for the council, so we are left with a diminishing private sector and a burgeoning public sector.

    Reply

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