BUS passengers in rural parts of Peeblesshire and neighbouring Biggar have hit out after their 'unreliable' operator wasn't punished by the Traffic Commissioner.

Many users of the 101/2 between Dumfries and Edinburgh regularly complain about being late for work and appointments due to service.

And they have raised their concerns with operator Stagecoach about the mechanical reliability of its fleet.

But following a public inquiry last month into the operations of Western Buses, part of Stagecoach West Scotland, the firm was only given a warning.

Stand Up for Our Buses has been campaigning for better services along the 101/2 route - which passes through Biggar, West Linton and Carlops - since 2012.

Janet Moxley from the campaign group wants answers.

She said "Given the atrocious performance of the 101/2 service in recent months, it is difficult to see how the Traffic Commissioner's decision to take no action against Stagecoach for their repeated failure to run this route in a reliable fashion can be in the interests of the travelling public.

"We have contacted the Traffic Commissioner for an explanation, and are awaiting her response.

"We are also disappointed that Stagecoach passengers were not informed in advance of this Public Inquiry and so were not able to let the Traffic Commissioner know about their experiences.

"Although it was publicised in the Notices and Proceedings section of the Traffic Commissioners website, this is not somewhere that more passengers would check regularly - it would have been useful if this Public Inquiry had been publicised in advance, for example in the local press."

The Traffic Commissioner for Scotland has yet to publish her findings of the Stagecoach inquiry from December.

And no formal announcement has yet been made.

But campaigners have been told of the outcome in advance.

Janet added "When a previous operator failed to provide a reliable service on the 101/2 route their contract was not renewed, but Stagecoach's recent performance is, if anything, worse, and yet no action is taken.

"Why should the public have to put up with this?"

The anger from passengers was compounded over the festive season when two buses in succession were cancelled and a later morning service was around half-an-hour late.

Further problems were recorded earlier this month, when on January 13 one service was delayed by an hour and a replacement mini-bus for another service reportedly broke down several times before finally arriving in Biggar 90 minutes late.

A spokesperson for Stagecoach said: "We are working closely with our depot in Dumfries as well as local authority partners to resolve the issues as quickly as we can for our customers.

"Operating safe and reliable services is our number one customer priority."

A spokesman for the Traffic Commissioner said: “The Deputy Traffic Commissioner who held this public inquiry gave Western Buses Limited a formal warning with regard to maintenance.

“He accepted the operator’s assurances regarding punctuality and imposed a requirement that they provide additional data to the Office of the Traffic Commissioner in support of those assurances.”