CAMPAIGNERS are urging Borders Buses to restore the X62 service to a full evening timetable now that the coronavirus lockdown is easing.

Simon Ritchie, 32, launched a petition last week which attracted more than 200 signatures in two days.

He told the Peeblesshire News: “Peebles is essentially cut off in the evenings if you don’t have a car – and we should have made much more progress in terms of restoring a full timetable by now.”

Following timetable changes prompted by the pandemic, the last X62 bus from Peebles to Edinburgh is at 5.40pm, with the final service from the capital to Peebles at 7.15pm.

But Mr Ritchie believes buses should now run later into the evening, as they did before the virus.

“We understand that the service had to be cut back during lockdown, but now we’re in stage three of lockdown easing and places are starting to reopen but there’s no way to get there,” said Mr Ritchie, who lives near Peebles.

The petition, which Mr Ritchie published online on September 7, has gained more than 300 signatures.

Supporters are asking Borders Buses to offer later services – even if this is on a “trial basis” initially.

Mr Ritchie said: “We don’t want to criticise Borders Buses because they’ve done a really good job throughout the pandemic, but I think on this issue of timetables, they’ve been a little bit slow.”

Peeblesshire News:

Peebles residents should have the same opportunities as those in Galashiels, says Mr Ritchie, with the chance to take public transport to and from Edinburgh for work and leisure in the evenings.

The last train from Galashiels to Edinburgh is currently at around 11.30pm, with the final train in the opposite direction leaving shortly before midnight.

Mr Ritchie said: "It’s quite unjust when you look around the Borders.

“Galashiels is served by the train as well as the bus, and ScotRail's timetable is back up to 90 per cent of its normal pattern.

“That means Gala folk can head in to Edinburgh for work or leisure and return around midnight – but that option just isn't there for Peebles folk.”

Mr Ritchie says he is grateful to the people who have signed his petition on

“The point of the campaign is not to ‘bash’ anybody, but purely to measure the support for a fuller timetable in the evenings – and it’s quite clear that there is that support,” he said.

Mr Ritchie’s day job is in politics, working as MSP Paul Wheelhouse’s senior caseworker.

A spokesperson for Borders Buses said: “Throughout this pandemic we have continued to keep our communities moving, sensibly and safely increasing service levels as and when more people step back out.

“Unfortunately, due to the current climate we are not in a position to resume all routes to pre-COVID-19 levels – the demand is simply not there.

“Our bus network is designed around customer demand and we welcome and encourage all feedback.

“Based on Simon’s petition, we will soon issue a customer survey to better understand our customers' new travel requirements.”