Edinburgh Bus Users Group Members’ Bulletin October 2023 (Number 12)

The EBUG Committee has decided to increase the frequency of members’ bulletins. We’re aiming for 6 a year, roughly once every two months. Due to the temporary unavailability of our usual method of posting the bulletin to EBUG members, October’s bulletin comes to you direct from our email account.

Here’s the ‘highlights’ since our previous bulletin in June:

Our AGM took place on June 21. Once the formal business was complete, Councillor Scott Arthur, Convenor of Transport at the City of Edinburgh, spoke about the role of bus services in the Council’s future transport plans. We were particularly pleased to note:

  • his reservations about the concept of ‘to not through’ the city centre with regard to buses.
  • that Councillors have not approved a blanket policy of removing bus stops.

The Tram Inquiry report was finally published. We suspect that everyone’s seen the ‘reports on the report’ so there’s little to add.

Lothian Buses had a ‘Doors Open Day’ at the Annandale St HQ on 23 September. It was very well attended, and clearly much appreciated by the crowds.

On 27 September McGills announced it was withdrawing its commercial services from West Lothian, claiming they’re not financially viable in the face of competition from a ‘publicly owned’ operator (i.e. the Lothian Buses group). In our view, whether the competition’s publicly owned or not is a red herring. The point is that there is evidently not room for two major operators in the area. The Lothian Buses group subsequently increased some of its commercial services in West Lothian. It may be the case that the subsidised services run by McGills in west Edinburgh will continue for now.

We published an update of our commentary on buses and the tram extension. It particularly highlighted the failings of the stops and shelters which are now being installed. You can see the full update here https://edinburghbususers.group/update-comments-on-the-edinburgh-tram-extension-and-buses . In summary, once again, provision for bus users has come last, after the rest of the project has been completed.

A review by Transform Scotland of the Scottish Government’s performance on its sustainable transport commitments indicated a disappointing lack of progress on buses https://transform.scot/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/Off-Track-report-Transform-Scotland-2023.pdf

In August, two young Edinburgh people set off on a mission to travel on every Lothian Buses service, in sequence, from 1 to 49. They made it in 12 hours 45 minutes! https://twitter.com/EdinburghBUG/status/1692629193925038480

Over the summer and early autumn, EBUG committee members were closely involved in discussions with Edinburgh Council about the A8/A89 ‘Public Transport and Active Travel improvements’ project; probably Edinburgh’s biggest bus programme since 2006. There is a lot more work to be done, but it’s gratifying to see a major bus lane project (essentially from Broxburn to Maybury) after so long!

Finally, Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Committee had a report on the consultation on its Public Transport and other Action Plans. This is part of the process of finalising and approving the plans: https://democracy.edinburgh.gov.uk/documents/s62125/Item%207.3%20-%20Actions%20to%20Deliver%20Edinburghs%20City%20Mobility%20Plan%20Consultation%20Update.pdf

It’s 391 pages long, so just a few highlights:

The market research results summarise opinion better than the survey, because it’s a statistically representative sample, whereas the survey was self-selecting.

There were two bus-specific questions, one indicated that opinion on the importance of different measures for faster and more reliable bus journeys (bus priority at junctions, additional and all-day bus lanes) is quite evenly split at around 58%.

The other indicated that opinion on the importance of different measures to make bus stops more attractive and services more accessible (real-time information, better bus stop layout and shelters) is also quite evenly split at around 69%.

It’s interesting to wonder whether the real-time information score was partly influenced by the rather poor state of RTI in Edinburgh recently?

Update; comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses

In December 2022, EBUG published an initial commentary on the Tram extension to Newhaven and buses https://edinburghbususers.group/ebug-comments-on-the-edinburgh-tram-extension-and-buses. At the time, construction was not complete, particularly at bus stops.

The Tram route has now been operating since June, so we revisited the sites previously inspected for an update. To recap, we had surveyed only the most southerly bus stops on Leith Walk, and the updated survey covered the same ground.

NB as previously, we did not carry out a full bus stop audit.

At Elm Row northbound, the bus stop appears acceptable. The shelter is long, and therefore spacious. It is perhaps disappointing that the opportunity was not taken to install wider end panels for better weather protection; this would have required moving the shelter onto the cycle path.

At Shrubhill, the northbound bus shelter is badly and apparently incorrectly sited. It appears that the stop and shelter were to be located on the ‘platform’ left of the cycle path in the picture below. However, they have been installed 8-9m from the kerb. At an average pace, it takes 8-9 seconds to cross the gap; more if anything impedes the passenger’s mobility. There is a cycle path between the shelter and the kerb. This poses an issue for passengers; when raining, should they a) wait in the shelter and rush out when the bus comes b) wait at the kerb and get wet? The setting back also inhibits the line of sight to approaching buses.

The two pictures below show that the bus box is not aligned with the stop. As these markings were painted before the shelter was installed, and match the ‘platform’, we conclude that they are installed correctly, and it is the stop and shelter that are not.

The two stops north of Pilrig Street (north and southbound) have not been completed.

At Shrubhill southbound, the bus shelter is shown below.

This appears to be the first of the ‘bespoke’ bus shelters acquired for Leith Walk.

  1. The shelter roof is 20cm narrower than the ‘Standard Decaux’ at 130cm compared to 150cm. The ‘Standard Decaux’ shelters are often criticised for providing inadequate shelter. This ‘bespoke’ shelter provides even less.
  2. It has no side panels, further reducing weather protection.
  3. A bin is placed in the area where passengers exit from a two-door bus, contrary to factsheet PT2 in the Edinburgh Street Design Guide https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/file/24985/pt-2-bus-stops

At Elm Row southbound, EBUG had previously (March 2022) joined other groups calling for better plans https://edinburghbususers.group/ebug-joins-other-transport-groups-with-concerns-over-public-realm-design-for-elm-row


  1. It is not immediately clear to the bus user whether to use the bus stop at the temporary sign or the flag on the shelter. (Previously there were two stops here, reflecting the high demand).
  2. There is a cycle lane immediately in front of the shelter. We observed passenger/cyclist conflicting moves in the short time we were there.
  3. The shelter is 7m from the kerb. It takes 7 seconds to cross the gap. See above regarding this (Shrubhill).
  4. The is no clear line of sight from the shelter to approaching buses.

‘Pedestrian issues’

In our December 2022 commentary, EBUG brought to the attention of Living Streets Edinburgh in particular issues regarding street clutter.

We also note now that, while conducting this updated survey, we observed a number of cases of cyclists using both cycle paths as if they were bi-directional, notwithstanding the directional arrows; particularly food deliverers.

Guest Contribution to EBUG website 1

EBUG is now occasionally posting contributions by ‘guest writers’ on our website. EBUG may, or may not, agree in full with their content, but believes they are interesting contributions to discussions on the future of buses in and around Edinburgh.

In the first post, Stacey O’Flaherty of the Ratho Bus Working Group reflects on a year of campaigning for better bus services for Ratho.

As well as leading the Working Group, Stacey led the ‘lovemybus’ youth programme, engaging with over 10,000 young people across Scotland in 22 Council areas, working with nine bus operators visiting nurseries, Outdoor Forest Schools, Primary and High and ASN Schools, Scouting and GirlGuiding groups.


Having fought hard for 12 months simply to get council officials to do their job on a ‘business as usual’ project with a defined annual budget it now raises lots of other questions… Why are these business as usual projects not reported on and flagged when not on track?

Why are public groups fighting for officials to look at better, smarter, greener and cheaper solutions than sticking with the status quo? This should be a matter of course.

Why are we not investing more in bus…Bus services and routes and providing operators with funding opportunities to grow in areas that are not well connected, that are new or emerging?

It takes time to change habits or build trust in services and it’s not fair for us to expect operators to take on that burden alone.

Bus is for anyone and everyone! It has to be a collaborative approach. I don’t understand the politics of it, but I understand bus and the simplicity of what it means to people and communities.

I understand living in a village what it means to feel connected. Understanding how we could live more sustainably if given the chance of a good bus!

I see blaming of governments, local authorities and operators! But they all have to work together. Operators are businesses and have to earn an income! Local authorities want value for money and government wants to reach net zero!

Without collaboration and funds these three stakeholders cannot align effectively. Recently I’ve seen some really good bus infrastructure plans but they stop short of investing in actual buses and routes in utilising the infrastructure!

Edinburgh Bus Users Group; response to call for evidence by the Cross-Party Group on Sustainable Transport inquiry into cutting public transport emissions

Edinburgh Bus Users’ Group (EBUG) is a campaign which aims to provide a voice for bus users; to protect and improve Edinburgh’s bus network. EBUG is concerned with bus services within the City of Edinburgh Council area and those which cross its boundary. It is user/supporter led, independent of any operator, local or national authority, political party or trade union.

Whilst our response is concerned with buses, some issues are shared with, for example, rail and ferries (and even freight), and the text of our response highlights this where particularly relevant.

  1. Decarbonisation strategy and priorities

1.1 What are the primary benefits of pursuing a zero-carbon public transport system (e.g. in terms of transport operations, the environment, public health, society/communities, and the economy)? Do you see any drawbacks of decarbonisation? As far as possible, please provide an evidence base to support your views.

The primary benefits of pursuing a zero-carbon public transport system are that it contributes towards a low/zero-carbon society, and the benefits that entails. The drawbacks, if that is the right word, are the risks of following inappropriate paths towards that goal, as set out below.

1.2 Should government follow a strictly technology-neutral approach (e.g. based on carbon-abatement potential or value-for-money), or should it pick specific public transport technologies to support (e.g. favouring one fuel over another)? Please explain your rationale here.

This is not necessarily a dichotomy. If government is involved, as it must be, it cannot be technology-neutral, as it will have to support particular technologies at particular times. See also question 2.2.

As in other crises, government must be led by the science. This implies certain basic principles; the primary objective being to reduce energy consumption across the building, manufacturing and operating chains. The second objective being to use renewable and zero-carbon power sources, also across building, manufacturing and operating.

The CPG has already heard, in the evidence sessions, the advantages and disadvantages of particular power sources for public transport. An impartial observer of developments in this area over the past five years would probably consider the evidence as ‘settled’; i.e. a primary focus on renewable electricity, with renewal hydrogen or ammonia only for applications where electricity is not feasible.

(NB the point is sometimes made that batteries, hydrogen, ammonia etc are energy storage systems rather than power sources. For present purposes this is perhaps academic, although the impact of transmission/translation losses does need to be considered.)

1.3 What should be the immediate priorities in decarbonising public transport (short-run; within the next 1-2 years), and which interventions might be better phased for the medium-run (say 3-5 years) and the long-run (say 5-15 years)? For example, you may want to comment on issues such as: energy supply, fuel & vehicle technologies, infrastructure requirements, or economy-wide issues such as the labour force and skills.

The focus should be on the 80-20 split (prioritising initiatives that achieve 80% of the objective for 20% of the effort, rather than 20% of the objective for 80% of the effort). The solutions are generally known, albeit resisted in some quarters. In particular, proven low-tech options, properly implemented, such as fast, frequent, reliable, well-used buses produce a fraction of the carbon that a car-based transport system does. The same applies to rail and ferries. This means achieving significant modal shift towards these most efficient modes. We cite most recently the Climate Change Committee’s 2023 Progress Report to Parliament (UK), especially page 128:

‘The Government should launch a more strategic review (of road-building projects to assess whether they are consistent with its environmental goals)…Measures to reduce car demand – whether through reducing the need to travel, modal shift or shared mobility – present an important opportunity…support local transport authorities in refreshing their local transport plans (especially on carbon)’

The CCC is reporting to the UK Parliament, but it is relevant to the Scottish Parliament too.

While this is in progress, replacement of fossil-fuelled by zero-carbon vehicles can take place. Note that wholesale and immediate replacement of fossil-fuelled fleets, even if it was feasible, is not zero-carbon friendly, given the embedded carbon wasted in prematurely scrapping perfectly serviceable vehicles.

  1. Decarbonisation and the economy

2.1 What economic opportunities would be afforded by pursuing decarbonisation of Scotland’s public transport (e.g. manufacturing base, employment)?

2.2 Should the Scottish Government intervene to assist in the development of Scotland’s industrial base in zero-carbon transport technologies, and if so, how? What barriers does it face in providing this support?

Probably, within reason. A long and distant supply chain will itself tend to generate carbon inefficiencies. To refer back to question 1.2, it almost inevitably means the Scottish Government cannot be technology-neutral.

2.3 Should the UK Government intervene to assist in the development of Scotland’s industrial base in zero-carbon transport technologies, and if so, how? What barriers does it face in providing this support?

Any UK Government role should reflect and respect the devolution settlement.

2.4 How can policy-makers ensure that local supply chains benefit from the transition to zero-carbon public transport?

2.5 Given current financial circumstances, do you have views on how the decarbonisation of the Scottish transport system can and should be financed?

By reducing expenditure on carbon-intensive activities, as outlined in reply to question 1.3

  1. Overcoming barriers to decarbonisation

3.1 What are the key barriers to public transport operators in moving to a decarbonised fleet (buses, trains, ferries)? How can these barriers be mitigated?

Our response to this question and question 3.2 is essentially the same. The overriding barrier is political. The uncertainty provoked by shifts in governments’ commitments undermine the confidence and certainty that are required by operators and suppliers in order to invest, and ultimately increase costs. It is sometimes difficult even to judge the strength of government commitment to tackling climate change at all.

Transport campaigners are used to conflicting government policies. As one example; the UK Treasury appears to have a cultural antipathy to public transport, for reasons which need not concern us here. The consequence, however, has been seriously to inhibit the development of low-carbon public transport.

One glaring example is railway electrification, although the Scottish Government has been much more consistent than the UK Government; which, since 2000, has been alternatively pro-electrification, then electrification-sceptic, then pro-electrification, electrification-sceptic, and is currently in a kind of in-between phase.

With regard to buses, the issues are clear. The study by KPMG for the Confederation of Passenger Transport (Trends in Scottish Bus Patronage, 2017) identified the factors behind the decline in bus patronage, which was consistent after WW2. (Although it has stabilised somewhat). The remedies are generally understood, but there has been a marked reluctance to implement them widely. Consequently, there have not been the extensive customer and revenue bases to encourage significant investment.

3.2 What are the key barriers faced by industry suppliers in putting in place the infrastructure required for the operation of low- or zero-carbon buses, trains and ferries? How can these barriers be mitigated?

3.3 What action needs to be taken to ensure the availability of adequate electricity supply for the decarbonisation of public transport?


Comments on The City of Edinburgh Council’s draft Public Transport Action Plan

As submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council

In commenting on the six Action Plans which underpin the City Mobility Plan (CMP), Edinburgh Bus Users Group is:

  • Submitting the commentary below regarding the Public Transport Action Plan (PTAP)
  • Submitting a general statement regarding the Active Travel, Road Safety, Air Quality and Parking Action Plans
  • Submitting the commentary below, and the general statement, with regard to the Circulation Plan, taking account of the iterative relationship between PTAP and Circulation Plan.

General Commentary on the Public Transport Action Plan

Before commenting on specific details in the PTAP, we reflect on some key contextual issues.

General transport policy

UK transport policy since the mid-20th century can be divided into three periods:

  • The post-war period when the car and the lorry was ‘the future’, with society built around them
  • The late 1980s onwards, when the drawbacks of ‘the great car society’ began to be understood
  • A ‘backwash’ when the challenges of reversing post-war policy became clear

We are now into a ‘second wave’, characterised by a greater sense of environmental urgency. We sense a mood of impatience with the speed of change, or lack of it.

Transport policy in Edinburgh

In Edinburgh, transport policy has been remarkably consistent since the 1990s. Nevertheless, we detect some exasperation with apparently endless consultation, often over issues which have already been discussed ad nauseum. There is some justification in the criticism that Edinburgh is good at drawing up policies and plans, but not so good at delivering them.

We recognise that there are constraints to how the Council must work. Medium to long term projects take inordinately long, and are over-expensive, in the UK. This has been recognised by the UK government, which launched ‘Project Speed’ in response, which is still working through the system.

Our view, expressed in a deputation to a Full Council meeting in September 2022, is that in recent years the Council rather took Edinburgh’s bus network for granted, and lost sight of its earlier successful partnership with operators

We highlight the transformation of the ‘Greenways years’ in the 1990s, when not only was transport policy substantially reshaped, but delivery literally on the ground was achieved. We suggest three major factors were at play:

  • Substantial political commitment, which generated cultural change throughout departments
  • Sufficient funding
  • Simpler, more streamlined processes compared to today (also limiting cost)

Dealing with the constraints

Few would dispute that Councils such as Edinburgh are now considerably more constrained in their ability to shape local transport, particularly because of finance. Therefore they need to pay ever closer attention to using their resources effectively.

Transport policy is plagued with fanciful ‘silver bullets’, canards, and distractions. The constraints noted above mean the Council needs to avoid ruthlessly any wild goose chases. Therefore, the Council should be ambitious but absolutely hard-headed about its priorities. We hope our following comments help provide some focus on these.

Commentary on the Actions proposed in the draft PTAP

For convenience, we have copied the full list of Actions as amended by Transport and Environment Committee in February 2023, but comment only where we believe it is required.

Addressing Climate Emergency

  • PC1 Deliver a programme of behaviour change interventions, focusing on key priority groups
  • PC2 Work with operators to deliver options for a net zero carbon fleet
    COMMENT 1: generally, actions beginning ‘we will work with’ are vague. Operators determine vehicle procurement, albeit sometimes influenced by Scottish Government funding. It would be prudent to ensure that PC2 does not require significant Council staff time.
  • PC3 Review on street infrastructure required (e.g. opportunity charging) to support multi operator electric/hydrogen fleets
  • PC4 Review of depot infrastructure and charging requirements to support a fully electric/hydrogen fleet
    COMMENT 2: we cannot see a Council role, except perhaps as Planning Authority if/when appropriate.

Providing Safe, Affordable and Accessible Public Transport

  • PT1 Improve perceived safety for all users through improved lighting at and walking routes to bus and tram stops and rail stations
  • PT2 Improve travel experience for disabled users including more information on space availability
    COMMENT 3: preventing parking at bus stops needs particular attention. We also agree with Living Streets Edinburgh Group that Floating bus stops undermine the confidence of some bus users, especially blind people, to the extent that some people will avoid using them altogether.
  • PT3 Deliver Edinburgh Tram/Lothian Buses integrated ticketing
    COMMENT 4: PTAP aims for tap tap cap to be integrated by “end 2025”.  While it doesn’t impact on concessionary fare users, it runs counter to PC1 (Changing minds, changing behaviour) for the vast majority of car users, thereby undermining the overall CMP. This element needs to be accelerated.
  • PT4 Continue engagement on concessionary travel/free under 22 travel on tram
  • PT5 Work with public transport operators and Transport Scotland to deliver comprehensive integrated ticketing across tram, bus and rail
    COMMENT 5: as above, vague; perhaps understandably, as the subject has been discussed for many years with little progress. It would be easy to waste a considerable amount of unproductive staff time on this. It is likely that Transport Scotland will lead any progress on this.
  • PT6 Complete Trams to Newhaven operations and handover
  • PT7 Continue ongoing programme of shelter replacement
    COMMENT 6: as EBUG’s bus stop audits show, the quality of the infrastructure and environment at the beginning of each bus journey, which is a key factor for impacting travel behaviour, is inconsistent. Along with PT8 this needs prioritised attention.
  • PT8 Replace existing on-street bustracker signs with multi operator information signs
  • PT9 Strengthen partnerships with the taxi and private hire car trade and car club partners as key providers of the city’s shared mobility offering to support the shift to zero emission vehicles and the introduction of new technology to improve safety, standards and accessibility
  • PT10 Ensure existing taxi-rank requirements are protected –general locations and capacity; continue to review provision to deliver additional capacity in consultation with the taxi trade
  • PT11 Develop DRT solutions that are useable for everyone and provide travel choices to support journeys that are sustainable, efficient and affordable
    COMMENT 7: DRT is a ‘no-brainer’ concept that has been discussed for years but rarely progresses except in specialist situations. We understand that Edinburgh’s Dial-a-Bus is highly valued by its users, but is a specialist service. We recall two attempts by larger operators to introduce generally available DRT, but these were discontinued. EBUG is as perplexed as many others as to why DRT is not more widespread. We can only offer our impression that a key factor is a very close connection to its potential ridership; it may well be best delivered by small operators who can provide a highly personal service.
  • PT12 Support development of Mobility as a Service (MaaS) in Edinburgh
    COMMENT 8: given our earlier comments, we feel it is time to challenge MaaS. It appears to be a concept that has been aired for some time, but does not address the question ‘what is it for?’  It has the hallmarks of other tech products touted by their developers as futuristic or innovative, but actually less useful and more expensive than traditional products; often designed to lock users into a buy-replace cycle.
  • PT13 Deliver enhanced public transport solution through use of Data Driven Innovation (DDI) experts

Delivering a Reliable and Efficient Network to Support Growth

  • PG1 Deliver outcomes from the Circulation Plan to ensure that the bus network continues to support strategic priorities including improved accessibility, integration and traffic reduction,
  • PG2 Work with the Council’s Planning Authority, developers and public transport operators to ensure public transport provision serves new developments
  • PG3 Extension of bus lane operating hours
    COMMENT 9: very welcome, but needs to be accompanied by consistent enforcement.
  • PG4 Deliver bus priority through the UTC/UTMC and AVL at traffic signals and investigate further technology options to help deliver reductions in peak bus journey times
  • PG5 Delivery of bus stop realignment supporting faster journey times with an opportunity to provide higher quality infrastructure
    COMMENT 10: We strongly welcome the motion at TEC (February 2023) to note previous concerns regarding ‘Bus Stop Rationalisation’, and that any plans to move/combine bus stops should consider accessibility, be mindful of service reliability, aim to increase patronage, and be informed by public engagement etc.
    Nevertheless, given recent history, we are wary of the wording in the draft PTAP. Note Comment 3 above: preventing parking at bus stops, and improving the bus-footway interface, would generally improve boarding times; as would the elimination of bus bays (especially if linked to installing bus boarders). That is the kind of ‘realignment
    supporting faster journey times’ that we support.
  • PG6 Deliver additional bus priority interventions through the Bus Partnership Fund (BPF) and other funding sources, helping to support the aim of a 25% reduction in peak bus journey times on key corridors and hotspot locations
    COMMENT 11: very welcome.
  • PG7 Plan, design and deliver pilot projects with site specific sustainable transport and urban realm facilities to suit the needs of the area
    COMMENT 12: as with Comment 8, we are far from convinced by the Mobility Hub concept. We understand the nature and benefits of Interchanges, but the Mobility Hub concept seems to be an overdeveloped, overcomplicated, and expensive case of Interchange suffering from Scope Creep. What is needed are clearly sign-posted and easily navigated interchanges throughout the on-street PT network.

Enhancing Regional Connectivity

  • PR1 Identify additional city centre terminating capacity (East and West Ends) to support growth in regional bus services
  • PR2 Consider future options for the bus station
    COMMENT 13: Edinburgh Bus Station is, in many respects, an exemplar of an unpretentious, functional and practical facility. There is, of course, always room for improvement, but we would urge the Council not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  • PR3 Enhance interchange:
    between rail, tram, bus and active travel
    between radial and orbital bus services
    across the city centre
    COMMENT 14: see also Comment 12. As set out in this draft, this is an important and pragmatic approach. We are much more convinced of its benefits than ‘Mobility Hubs’.
  • PR4 Deliver regional Park & Ride/Choose strategy so as to expand existing and deliver new park and ride capacity.
    COMMENT 15: We recognise the role of Park & Ride in the transport mix. However, sometimes it is seen as a panacea. It is often forgotten that there are already many thousands of P&R spaces, both rail and bus-based, around Edinburgh. We refer you to the ‘Round up’ section of this item on EBUG’s website  https://edinburghbususers.group/council-election-manifestos-2022-whats-in-them-for-buses#more-8252 . Existing P&R need to be better sign-posted, attractively priced (parking+travel combined, with city centre shopping discounts) and along reliably enforced bus lanes.
  • PR5 Develop mass rapid transit plan (including tram and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)) for the city and region
  • PR6 Deliver North/ South tram line linking Granton to the Bio Quarter and beyond
  • PR7 Implement express and regional bus services (limited stops). This must be done in a way that avoids reducing public transport options for Edinburgh residents.
  • PR8 Engage with Transport Scotland, Network Rail and rail operators in the delivery of new strategic rail projects
    COMMENT 14: as with Comments 1 and 2, the Council needs to be careful of overreach. In reality, Councils have few or no levers to pull with regard to Scotland’s railways. One exception applies to PR9, given the Council’s role as Planning Authority.
  • PR9 Deliver Waverley Station Masterplan subject to Network Rail programme
  • PR10 Consider future use of South Suburban Rail Line
  • PR11 Working with partners, explore the opportunity for a Cross-Forth ferry

Place; Reducing Vehicular Dominance

  • PV1 Support Edinburgh City Centre Transformation (ECCT) initiates to reduce city centre traffic volumes on key streets
  • PV2 Review opportunities to reduce bus stop dwell times lessening the need for stacking and the impact of vehicle dominance

Improve Governance and Coordination

  • PS1 Deliver new governance arrangements for council owned public transport operators
  • PS2 Align strategic business planning and operational management of the council owned public transport companies with the city’s transport policies and programmes
    COMMENT 15: Transport progress in the UK is bedevilled by debates about organisation and structure. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that such debates often illustrate that discussion is often a substitute for action. Therefore, the Council should avoid unduly expending time, energy and resources in this area. A key outcome of any organisational structure for Edinburgh Tram and Lothian Buses must be collaboration resulting in an integrated travel experience for all PT users.
  • PS3 Deliver Edinburgh Bus Alliance/Bus Service Improvement Plan

Comments on The City of Edinburgh Council’s draft Active Travel, Road Safety, Air Quality and Parking Action Plans

As submitted to the City of Edinburgh Council

In commenting on the Active Travel, Road Safety, Air Quality and Parking Action Plans, we submit this general statement which applies to all these Plans.

We have submitted separately comments on the Public Transport Action Plan, but note this general statement regarding overarching issues with all the Plans:

EBUG believes in a working partnership between the Council and bus operators which recognises that each should focus on what it can do, and what it does best.

The Council must increase the budget and capacity of the Council bus team and focus more pro-actively on delivering tangible improvements for bus users.


  • Improve coordination of bus and tram timetables and integrated ticketing
  • Radically improve the funding for “commercially unviable” routes such as services calling at key destinations and from poorly served rural and suburban communities.

Better Bus Stops

  • Complete a programme of bus stop renewal and improvement
  • Review the provision of bus shelters, always prioritising bus user needs
  • Complete early renewal/refreshment of real-time information on street displays
  • Reduce walking distances at interchanges (e.g. bus/tram/train).


In order to improve travel times and reliability, more bus-friendly highway infrastructure is needed;

  • Expand the overall number and extent of bus lanes, and their width where possible
  • Extend bus lane/gate operating hours to 7am-7pm, 7 days a week
  • Ensure that bus lane rules are properly enforced.

Bus Users’ Needs

Access to appropriate public transport is fundamental. Bus users are all pedestrians for part of their journey. Pedestrians are at the top of the urban transport hierarchy.

  • Protect the needs of people with visual, mobility or other impairments;

Current Floating Bus Stop designs do not meet these needs and should not continue to be rolled out

Cutting stops and increasing the distance between bus stops discriminates against older and less able bus users

  • Bus services should be reviewed, to meet user need /demand, including a focus on orbital routes and linking neighbourhoods
  • Bus services through the city centre must be retained, rather than cut back by a ‘to not through’ policy.


Additionally, with regard to the Active Travel Action Plan:

‘Action J17: Annually review & update of ESDG to align with emerging best practice/reflect lessons learned from use’
COMMENT: We would like to see a clear commitment that whenever the Edinburgh Street Design Guide is updated, proposed changes which may impinge on bus use are clearly flagged in advance.

‘ATAP EIA’ ‘Floating bus stops, floating parking spaces and continuous footways can be difficult for some people to navigate and there is some concern from user groups that these may increase pedestrian/vehicle conflict resulting in stress and/or confusion over user priority…

Mitigation: A fundamental principle of the floating bus stops is that the street markings clearly indicate to people cycling that they should give way to people embarking/alighting buses’

COMMENT: Note the widely cited phrase ‘Paint is not segregation’

How bus routes change; a quick guide to the process

Bus users and others often question how and why bus routes are changed, and are often very aggrieved about consultation, advance notice, and communication, or the lack of them. There is a complex set of legislation and regulations governing bus services. Lengthy but detailed explanations are here: https://www.gov.uk/run-local-bus-service and https://www.transport.gov.scot/public-transport/buses/transport-scotland-act-2019-and-bus-services/provision-of-service-information-when-varying-or-cancelling-registration/

EBUG’s attempt at a short guide for convenience follows:

Bus operators (who must hold an operator’s licence) are free to run any route they choose, vary or withdraw them as they see fit. Members of the public have no statutory right to input. This is set out in primary legislation.

Continue reading “How bus routes change; a quick guide to the process”

EBUG comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses

As Trams to Newhaven nears completion, there’s been much discussion in print and social media about the design/implementation of streetscape features, particularly on Leith Walk. The City of Edinburgh Council’s present and previous transport convenors made it clear that there will be a thorough review and rectification process, consistent with the Edinburgh Street Design Guidance.

Continue reading “EBUG comments on the Edinburgh Tram extension and buses”

Written deputation by six local groups to the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee, 8 December

Joint statement

A Working Group formed in summer 2022, partly following the removal of a bus lane on the A8 which provoked wider concern over the future of Edinburgh bus lanes. Members include Edinburgh Bus Users Group, Spokes, Living Streets Edinburgh Group, BEST, SW20 and CRAG. The members continue to be independent organisations, but all recognise that bus lanes are important because they reduce bus journey times. They also reduce bus operator costs, and provide a degree of priority and protection for cyclists and emergency vehicles among others.

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