No. 14 – Edinburgh Bus Users’ Group: Members’ Bulletin February 2024

Welcome to the latest EBUG Bulletin.

    • The new on-street Real-Time Information screens are still displaying timetable, not real-time, timings for Lothian Buses. An update is expected at the Council’s Transport and Environment Committee on 7 March.
    • In January we took part in a ‘stakeholder discussion’ about Elm Row. This was productive and we are now looking forward to significant improvements to the bus stops there.

    • The saga of supported bus service routes (see Bulletin 13) continues. The Council’s budget for 2024-5 includes an additional £300,000 for supported services, increasing the total budget from about £1.5 million/yr to £1.8 million. It remains to be seen whether this will be swallowed up by inflation or will allow some improvements in the context of an overall plan for supported bus services.
    • In Bulletin 13 we expressed some optimism about the Council’s bus priority programme. Unfortunately this proved to be premature, as the Scottish Government then decided to ‘pause’ funding in its budget. We wrote to every Lothian and neighbouring MSP calling for reinstatement of the Bus Partnership Fund in 2024-25.
    • On 1 February we did a deputation at the Transport and Environment Committee, which was considering a number of significant reports. Whilst acknowledging that the first review of the City Mobility Plan was a marked improvement on the initial document, we: 
      • Suggested a general philosophy of doing less, but better.
      • Expressed scepticism about Mobility Hubs and ‘Mobility as a Service’
      • Asked for clarity on what ‘Proposals to realign a small number of bus stops across the city’ and ‘working with bus operators to identify services which can terminate east or west of the City Centre’ means.
      • Argued that any further tram routes must be based on a network approach including buses, embedding high quality public transport infrastructure in high quality public realm; and that buses must be planned in from the outset, not squeezed in as an afterthought.
    • Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop wrote to Edinburgh’s Transport Convener Cllr Arthur, setting out a willingness to consider on-bus cameras to help enforce bus lanes. This was a welcome change from previous stonewalling by Transport Scotland on the subject. EBUG’s Committee claims a part in stirring this pot!
    • Planning begins soon for the next EBUG AGM, due in June/July. Turnout at the AGMs in 2022 and 2023 was a bit disappointing, even though we had interesting speakers. So, over to our members: who do you think it would be interesting to book as a guest speaker this year?
    • We have highly recommended an excellent webinar, Secrets of a Successful Bus Operation (here). It really is a first-class primer on successful buses, and only one hour long (one and a half if you watch audience questions)
    • Lothian Buses announced timetable changes from 24 March across the majority of their network. There is a lot to digest and understand in relation to three key public transport success measures: frequency, regularity and consistency. Following an initial analysis, it appears to us that there are many frequency improvements on core routes. LB’s stated aim of “improved reliability” may mean extended journey times which in turn reflects unsatisfactory traffic flow and/or road works/diversions. We will be keen to hear members’ first hand experiences once the new timetable goes live.