Vital Lanarkshire village bus service suspended after repeated vandalism attacks

Bus services have been withdrawn from an Airdrie village after ‘reckless’ thugs smashed vehicle windows three times – including two attacks in just three days last week.

211 previously serving Calderbank will no longer pass through the area until further notice due to the wave of vandalism, which caused thousands of pounds of damage and three of contractor JMB Travel’s vehicles are still off the road pending costly repairs.

The Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) condemned the ‘totally unacceptable senseless vandalism’ and said it was left with ‘no choice’ but to suspend the service; meaning passengers living in the village currently have to find their way to alternative route points in Brownsburn or Chapelhall in order to board a bus.

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A JMB spokesperson told Lanarkshire Live how objects were thrown at the side windows of its vehicles on three separate evenings as the Airdrie to Motherwell service traveled along Main Street to Calderbank.

Vandals first struck last month, and two more windows were subsequently smashed in the past week alone – and although there were no injuries to drivers or passengers at any of the three occasions, the incidents have been described as “quite traumatic” for those involved.

The travel authority took the decision to halt the subsidized service in the Calderbank area immediately after the two near-consecutive incidents last week.

A spokeswoman said: “SPT takes the safety of all passengers and bus drivers very seriously.

“We are working closely with Police Scotland to identify those responsible for the totally unacceptable senseless vandalism on this road which puts passengers and drivers at risk.

“Unfortunately, we have no choice but to suspend part of this route, which we know is essential for many members of the local community. In the event of unsafe behavior, we must take action to protect those using the bus as well as the driver.

“SPT My Bus is available for the most vulnerable passengers in the region to accompany them on their journeys; we are also talking to local councilors to raise awareness of the issues and discuss options for restoring this essential service.

Each window costs at least £300 per window to repair; and with ongoing supply chain issues affecting the time it takes to obtain construction materials and the like, bus operator JMB faces a five-week wait for needed repairs as vehicles are unavailable for use during this period.

A statement on the company’s website reads: ‘The 211 service will not serve Calderbank until further notice due to ongoing vandalism.

“Continued attacks on buses [are] causing thousands of pounds of damage every week.

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused; however, we cannot continue to bear the cost of damage to the buses caused by these reckless vandals.

TPS officials are in contact with the police about the vandalism attacks and are meeting with local councilors to ask for their help in solving the problem.

Airdrie South representative Michael Coyle said the perpetrators ‘should be ashamed’ of their actions, saying: ‘This wanton vandalism is a disgrace and it’s lucky there were no injuries .

“I am not surprised the decision to withdraw the service was made given what happened – SPT had no choice and the companies cannot continue to pay for window replacements, they have therefore had to take action – but that leaves Calderbank isolated.

“Residents need to be able to take public transport to get to places like the GP or hospital; it’s a long walk to Brownsburn or Chapelhall to catch a bus, especially with the onset of winter, and that will have a really detrimental effect.”

Airdrie Police Station Inspector Neil MacLeod said: ‘We have recently been made aware of three incidents in the Calderbank area involving objects being thrown at moving buses.

“Due to this reckless and dangerous driving, the local bus service had to be temporarily interrupted, depriving the community of a vital service.

“Officers are investigating the incidents and will increase patrols in the area.

“We look forward to hearing from anyone who may have information about the incidents, or the people responsible. If you think you can help us with our investigation, please call 101, quoting incident 3396 of September 17.

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Melvin Z. Madore