THERE are calls to reconsider the axing of a "key" bus route going through the Hillfoots.

Stagecoach is proposing to cut its number 23 service between Stirling and St Andrews with Wee County bus users urged to air their views in a consultation which closes this week.

The bus company said the service has been operating "at a significant loss" – even before the pandemic – and is not commercially viable.

It is understood buses on the route are already absent, with the company earlier announcing there would be no service until further notice amid the Covid-19 crisis.

The move sparked calls for reconsideration, especially as Dollar's public transport links have long-since been substandard.

MSPs Keith Brown and Alexander Stewart have both contacted the Advertiser to express their concerns and to call on the company to rethink its stance.

Mr Brown, who branded the move a "short-sighted" decision, said: "I am deeply concerned that Stagecoach East appear to be taking the decision to cut a key bus route to St Andrews, a service that many in my constituency rely on.

"As the only direct route to St Andrews, the knock on effect for many will be significant, particularly for those with no other means of travel.

"It is especially disappointing for Stagecoach to be taking this decision at a time when we are encouraging folk to use public transport instead of cars."

Mr Stewart said the proposal is "disappointing in the least".

He added: "I completely understand that the current Covid-19 pandemic has meant that many public transport companies have been both quieter in passenger numbers as well as running with increasing costs to keep these passengers safe, but this should not mean that communities are penalised as a result.

"To say that the route which the 23 takes through Dollar on its way to St Andrews from Stirling is already poorly-served is an understatement; however, to further reduce this service to the serious detriment of our more rural communities would be a complete travesty."

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach East Scotland said: "The decision was made to withdraw service 23 as it was under-performing prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing costs mean that this service operates at a significant loss, resulting in us no longer being able to commercially run the service.

"We have been in contact with the local authorities where this service operates and have shared passenger numbers to allow them to consider if they can provide an alternative service."

Meanwhile, proposed changes to the 8A service would mean it will no longer serve Main Street in Clackmannan, staying on Alloa Road and taking passengers to Culross instead.

Stagecoach said: "This service was extended to Falkirk in partnership with Fife Council and relied on passenger numbers increasing each year.

"Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, passenger numbers are expected to stay low for some time, making this extension no longer viable."

Visit to comment on the proposals by this Friday, August 7.