BUS users have expressed their disappointment over the changing frequency of a service they see as "vital".

An online petition was launched on October 24 calling out the changing frequency of the X95 Borders Buses service between Galeshiels and Carlisle - which used to be hourly - to every two hours.

The petitioners, whose numbers currently stand at 138, claim that the reduced service could affect the "job prospects and quality of life" of "many people".

"It's vital", said X95 user Anita Baptist of Canonbie.

"Many people who live in rural areas do not have a car.

"They use [the bus] for shopping, socialising, important appointments, hospital appointments [and] visiting friends.

"People can feel isolated in rural area [and] they need this life line. It connects them to places."

The petitioners are calling for a return to the hourly service, with Anita - who started the online petition - saying she has relied it after coming out of hospital.

She added: "I for one have had many hospital appointments after which I could not drive. If you do not have someone to take you then you can be stuck, and the last thing you want when you are not well is to hang around for two hours.

"It is a service the community badly needs. Langholm has lost many things [and] if any regeneration is to happen it needs a decent bus service."

Cumbria County Councillor for Longtown, said: "To have that connection is wonderful and I am sorry to hear if they [have] cut the service down because a lot of people do use the [bus] if they are travelling down from Scotland to Carlisle.

"I would be very sorry to hear that a reduced service from Longtown to Carlisle is on the cards."

Cllr Tarbitt called the service a "godsend" for people who need to get between rural towns in the borders "conveniently with good connections".

A spokesperson for Borders Buses, said: “Our Borders Buses team is working round the clock to keep people in the Borders moving.

"In normal circumstances we have always responded positively to demand and requests for increased frequencies and journeys.

"Unfortunately, due to a driver shortage across the industry, we are unable to increase the frequency of our operation at this time. 

"The impact of Brexit, C19 and self-isolating continues to have a bearing on our service delivery.

"However, the main issue continues to be the unprecedented delays in processing vocational driver licence applications and the ability to book bus driving tests. 

"We would like to stress, unlike some operators across the UK, we are not cutting services and are operating all services registered."