CARRICK, Cumnock and Doon Valley MSP Jeane Freeman has been challenged to tour her constituency using only public transport.

Pam Currie – who set up a petition to improve train services last year – tweeted the challenge as public transport in the constituency continues to get cut.

In the last year, Stagecoach have halved the buses to Ayr, cut direct services to Glasgow and virtually abandoned Sorn.

Pam told the Chronicle: “I’ve issued the challenge as I’m frustrated by the lack of action by the Scottish Government on the issue of public transport.

“The government say that they want to integrate public transport and reduce car usage, but I see no evidence of this in East Ayrshire, and particularly in Jeane’s largely rural Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency.

“I commute to Glasgow on a daily basis . I cycle and take the train whenever I can - usually two or three times a week. I’ve noticed a spike in road traffic on the M77 in the last week, after the cut to the X76 bus service and the ongoing shambles at Ayr station, and I am concerned that the situation is only going to get worse. As a woman travelling on my own, I find Kilmarnock bus station to be cold, dirty and downright unsafe, particularly in the evenings, and I would go out of my way to avoid it.

“I hope that if Jeane experiences local public transport for herself, she might take the message back to her Cabinet colleagues.

“Reliable, affordable and safe public transport doesn’t just reduce road traffic and pollution – it creates healthier and happier communities.

“It’s ridiculous that Cumnock has a train line but no station.

“Where is the commitment to reducing road traffic in Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley – or does this only extend to Glasgow and Edinburgh? I hope that she will take up my challenge.”

However, Ms Freeman has politely declined Pam’s challenge. She said: “I am well aware of the difficulties that public transport presents in rural Scotland. I’ve had many discussions with Stagecoach over the past two years making the case for transport links in rural Ayrshire but as with any private company, they are only answerable to their shareholders.

“SPT can only do so much to mitigate the worst of these service cuts and I am pleased that they have done so to keep a bus service connecting Sorn.

“I have also been in talks with Scotrail regarding the Glasgow to Dumfries rail line to see what can be done to provide a more frequent service to and from Glasgow and with the local authority regarding investment on transport infrastructure as part of a pan Ayrshire Growth Deal. The possible reopening of closed stations is also firmly on my agenda with Government colleagues.”