CONCERNS have been raised over the possibility of a Wee County bus service being removed on top of the current availability of "woefully inadequate" public transport across Clacks.

First Bus's X53 service, which serves areas of the Hillfoots including Dollar, Muckhart and Tillicoultry, could be cancelled at the end of a current review period.

The firm is currently looking at changes that are being implemented in order to address its "ongoing driver shortage issue" but have stated the earliest the cancellation could take place is next year.

Green MSP Mark Ruskell has also launched a campaign to retain the service for the area.

Damian Sherwood Johnson, chair of the Tillicoultry, Coalsnaughton and Devonside Community Council, said there are already concerns about the availability and reliability of bus services in the area.

He told the Advertiser: "We'd be disappointed to see the loss of another bus.

"Overall, we are concerned about the amount of public transport and the reliability of it.

"The public transport is woefully inadequate."

First Bus insist that no final decision has yet been made, and registration changes are a 70-day process which means the earliest the removal could take place is January 2022.

Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director for First Bus in Scotland, said: "As is being experienced across the bus industry, we have seen varying levels of driver shortages in some of our operating areas over the last few weeks, similar to other road transport businesses.

"The majority of routes are running normally although in some areas we are making temporary timetable adjustments to ensure a reliable service and minimise disruption. We thank customers for their patience and understanding while we overcome this short-term situation.

"The X53 is part of a number of further changes we are having to implement in order to address our ongoing driver shortage issue."

He continued: "We have entered a 70-day process to temporarily suspend the service until further notice, in order to help address the driver shortage and focus resource where there is current demand and on those services that we are seeing a higher rate of post-Covid-19 passenger recovery on.

"The 70-day process will give us time to try to address the shortages and if driver numbers improve then this is something that we can cancel at any point and we will of course keep passengers informed of any decisions made in this regard well in advance of any changes taking effect."