AN island councillor has today questioned whether a revamped bus route on Millport should be allowed to use Ferry Road

The News last week revealed plans by Millport Motors to run a 16-seater minibus on the half hourly local service due to launch this month.

The island's only bus company will be using the Ferry Road route between 7.40am and 7.10pm.

The time saved by using Ferry Road means they can run a requested service in town, meaning people can be picked up on their street.

Millport Motors say the changes will mean an improved service, that the changes were necessary due to economical reasons and add that a dial-a-bus service is also being launched.

But Councillor Alan Hill is unhappy with the new set-up and says he is unsure the road is properly classified for a bus route.

He said: "Apparently only the first two and the last two bus services that go round the main island are subsidised.

"The rest is all deregulated, so Millport Motors are entitled to change the route.

"It seems staggering that all this can be pushed through without a full consultation.

"The dial-a-bus service will probably be welcomed but I don't see the reasoning in using Ferry Road, which has quite a few bends and turns.

"If that minibus meets a tractor you have missed the boat, as it is then effectively single track."

Cllr Hill says he is checking with North Ayrshire Council about the classification of Ferry Road and its suitability for buses.

He added: "Officers are looking into this and are also speaking with Strathclyde Partnership for Transport."

Cllr Tom Marshall has welcomed the new route and does not believe Ferry Road will present a problem.

He said: "I think it it a positive move, and is partly caused by the need to reduce the running costs of the larger bus.

"There are less foot passengers using the service during the winter period.

"The big bonus is that any resident within Millport town can dial a bus and be picked up from their home and go into town or onwards for the ferry.

"Some people have raised concerns about the use of Ferry Road but as long as people travel at a sensible speed there shouldn't be an issue."

The replacement of the round-the-island route means that the Field Studies Centre will be missed out.

Alex MacFie, head of the FSC, said: "We have historically benefited from a great service provided by Millport Motors meeting the ferries.

"They are efficient, affordable and the drivers are very friendly.

"We had almost 5,000 visitors to the centre last year and we encourage them all to come as foot passengers on the ferry and leave their own transport on the mainland.

"If the dial-a-bus service works well then our customers may be able to continue to do this but it may pose some difficulties as they can arrive in groups of two or three or groups of 50 or 60 and they don’t always want to commit to specific times and for those coming for the first time it could be difficult.

"If the service proves inconvenient for our customers we will need to encourage them to bring their own transport, which isn’t what we want to do due to environmental, financial and traffic implications.

"We will see how things go with the dial-a-bus service to start with as I do understand the bus company’s thinking in making the changes."