No 12. Edinburgh Bus Users Group: Members’ Bulletin October 2023

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 . 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

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!

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:

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?