A DISABLED man has written to the Scottish Government in a bid to improve transport services for those living with disabilities.

James Hume, 41, from Alexandria lives with cerebral palsy and is also blind so uses a guide dog for support.

He has now written to Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop (below) over his anger with the MyBus service provided by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).

The National:

James lives with his father Jim Hume, 80, who acts as his son’s full-time carer. He spoke with The National about how he feels SPT has left many disabled people “stranded”.

MyBus service

According to the SPT website, MyBus “is a bookable bus service offering door-to-door transport in your area”.

It adds that it can be used “for shopping, GP appointments, visiting friends, attending local clubs, and much more”.

The website also explains that it “will pick you up and drop you off as close as possible to your destination”.

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Prior to the pandemic, Jim says his son (below) used the service regularly to make a return journey from Alexandria to Clydebank via the MyBus’s M10 route.

The National:

However, post-Covid, he says James has tried to book 19 journeys in the last six months and that only one of these was accepted, while another said the service would be able to bring him home from Clydebank but not take him there.

In the letter, James urged the Scottish Government to intervene to improve the service and said: “Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been abandoned and their personal independence and freedom has been taken away.

“I myself am 41 years old and registered blind, I also have a guide dog and suffer from cerebral palsy which has left me physically disabled therefore the MyBus service to me was invaluable.”

Felt across community

Jim echoed his son’s thoughts when speaking to The National and said he felt the SPT had “let the elderly down” as well as people living with disabilities.

“James hasn’t been able to get to Clydebank because using a public bus is quite hard, it’s quite difficult because they’re nearly always mobbed. Any bus that comes along is always packed,” he said.

“He used to go to the shopping centre in Clydebank and he feels safe there. His dog gets around in it perfect and takes him round the shops.

“There’s different shops there than there is here and he depended on it every week. He’d go to Costa’s and he’d meet a pal there for a blether.

“He’s missing out on all that. He’s stranded in the house now though because he can’t use this service and his freedom has been taken away.”

SPT response

The National approached SPT with Hume’s letter to ask about his difficulties with the service.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the MyBus service in the wider Dumbarton area was reinstated in August 2020 following its suspension during the pandemic. 

They added: “This service does not typically support journeys outwith the respective MyBus Zone, such as Alexandria to Clydebank unless there is spare capacity to do so.

“As demand for the service in the Dumbarton area has grown, there is less spare capacity to facilitate such trip requests at peak times.

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“SPT is seeking to introduce further additional MyBus resources in the Dumbarton area. However, this continues to prove challenging due to a shortage of local contractors and qualified bus drivers, which remains a nationwide issue.

“When we can facilitate such trips, we will. However, the available journey slots may not always suit the individual user as appears to be the case with Mr Hume.

“We have offered to meet with Mr Hume to discuss the issues he has raised.”

SPT has already come under pressure this year from campaign group Better Buses for Strathclyde who are calling for SPT to use new powers allowing local transport authorities to develop franchise systems.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson told The National: “We recognise the important role community transport services play as part of the transport network in Scotland and that they are vital for those who have no private transport, are unable to access conventional bus services or where suitable services are limited.

“The Scottish Government provides local authorities with resources for the support of community transport services through the local government finance settlement.

"This funding is not ring fenced and it is for individual local authorities to allocate funding as they see fit across their range of programmes taking into account local need and circumstances.”