Changes ahead ... bus shake-up will hit Kirkintilloch, Bishopbriggs and beyond

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FIRST Glasgow is reducing services and increasing fares because of cuts in funding to bus operators from the Scottish Government.

The company has revealed the Government will be implementing far-reaching cuts to its BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant) scheme, which partly refunds some of the excise duty bus operators pay on fuel.

Bus operators also face a shortfall in funding from the Concessionary Travel Scheme.

But the Scottish Government insists the changes will encourage operators to move to cleaner, greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

First Glasgow will increase fares from April 1 and said it cannot rule out the possibility of a further hike later in the year.

Ronnie Park, managing director of First Glasgow said: “We appreciate nobody likes it when we make cuts to services or increase fares, but I can assure customers that we are working hard to keep these to an absolute minimum.

“However, the measures introduced by the Scottish Government will have a huge impact on our business and regrettably at this time service cuts are unavoidable.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: “It is unacceptable and entirely misleading for operators to state that any service level or fare changes are solely down to amendments to the Bus Service Operators Grant scheme when, for Scottish operators as a whole, the change in the BSOG budget represents somewhere around one to two per cent of most fares.

“The changes we are making will encourage operators to move to cleaner, greener and more fuel-efficient vehicles and First Bus have benefited from financial support from the Scottish Government to invest in new low-carbon buses.

“Those operators most affected by the changes in the bus service grant are being supported with £3million of transitional funding and, importantly, the changes will provide protection for our vulnerable rural communities by protecting rural services.”

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