Well known 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 4pm, 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.