Dec 24 2010 by Alison Rennie, Paisley Daily Express
BUS bosses have slammed plans to take their old vehicles off the roads after they kept Paisley moving during the extreme weather conditions that made many roads and the town centre a no-go zone for vehicles.
Renfrewshire Council plans to bring in new rules banning older buses from Paisley town centre in favour of newer, more energy-efficient vehicles.
Smaller bus operators have objected to the Statutory Quality Bus Partnership (SQBP), claiming they don’t have enough money to replace their fleets within the timescale set by the council.
They believe larger bus companies will be able to replace their vehicles because they have access to more stock.
Billy Hutchison, who runs Phoenix Buses, gave the Paisley Daily Express a list of the smaller companies which were running to stranded housing schemes and areas across Renfrewshire during sub-zero temperatures last Tuesday.
They were Fereneze Travel, in Ferguslie Park; Travel Direct, in Foxbar; Phoenix Buses, in Johnstone; Fairway Coaches, in Glenburn; and Dickson Buses on Paisley Road West.
Billy said: “These were the only companies with a full service on the road on Tuesday and all are companies that operate the old Mercedes 709 minibuses.
“These were the only vehicles able to cope with the severe weather conditions. Had they not been on the road, then the travelling public in housing schemes would have been stranded.
“If the Quality Bus Partnership get their way and get all their new low-smoke emission buses on the road, God help the travelling public next year.
“Had it not been for private operators and the old minibuses, Paisley would have stood still.”
Renfrewshire came to a virtual standstill last Monday when 15cm of snow fell in just a few hours. Bus routes were cancelled for a time and there was also disruption to trains.
The sub-zero conditions continued all week with pupils only able to return to schools on Friday.
A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said: “We applaud the efforts of the smaller companies who have continued services despite very challenging road conditions.
“We hope that this commitment and business acumen continues into the future with a modernised bus fleet.
“We do not intend revising the terms of the Quality Partnership, however, because we continue to believe it offers the best deal for Paisley’s bus users.”