Saturday 14 September 2019

Edinburgh Masterplan Could See Bus Stops Axed

Fears have been raised about the future of Edinburgh’s bus services following the announcement of a 
£314m plan to reshape the city centre.

The revamp will see a series of roads closed to traffic, including Waverley Bridge, in order to cut the amount of traffic in the city centre by a third and make it more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

A Lothian 100 service departing from its stop on Waverley Bridge

The 10-year city centre transformation strategy proposals drawn-up by Edinburgh City Council have been welcomed for taking action to cut air pollution in the Capital and encourage active travel.

But plans for a cull of bus stops in order to speed up journey times and uncertainty over the number of buses which will be allowed to travel through the city centre has raised concern.

Councillor Jo Mowat, the city centre councillor for the Conservatives, has called for greater clarity of the impact of the proposals in general and their effect on residents travelling about the city.

She said: “There’s talk about a rationalisation of bus stops which seems to be a reduction in the number of bus stops, there’s no two-ways about that.”

 Lothian are renowned for running excellent regular cross city services such as the 22 from Ocean Terminal where Britannia is on display, to Gayle Centre, a major retail centre.

There was “no clarity” from the City Chambers on how many stops, services and routes might be caught up in any cull, she added.

She said there was an expectation of a reduction in buses on Leith Walk as part of the original tram works but called for clarification on whether any more are at risk.

“The big question, and they’re quite disingenuous in the papers, is are they talking about any increase in that reduction of services serving Princes Street and, if they are, what are those?

 A first Group vehicle on Princess Street

“There’re plenty of pretty pictures, but I’m not one for pretty pictures, I’m more one for practical implementation.”

Cllr Mowat called for greater detail on exactly how the council intends to cut city centre traffic by nearly a third with cuts to bus services and routes “hugely controversial.”

She added: “I think people will be anxious about how they get to work and how they take weekly trips - like getting the children to scouts or visiting family.”

 Stagecoach operate numerous services into the city.This vehicle is seen 40 miles from Edinburgh, in Biggar on route 101 to Edinburgh. All of the out of town services need
to access the city centre with minimal delays.
A Stagecoach  X55 service to Dunfermline leaving Edinburgh's bus station on
York Place, prior to travelling the 18 mile  journey via Rosyth.

Cllr Mowat was responding to the 10-year city centre transformation strategy to prioritise pedestrians and cyclists at a cost of £314m to implement in full.

Read about the council's £314m plan to reshape the city centre. here

Focus Comment

The above news comes at a time when the First Minister has announced significant government funding to improve infrastructure for buses.

Lothian say "As an industry we have always demonstrated that bus travel creates modal shift and encourages active travel journeys whilst delivering long term health, environmental and economic benefits.
However the impacts of ever increasing congestion must now be dealt with to ensure that bus can deliver against the positive announcement from Scottish Government. This will give the opportunity of additional investment to enhance measures already being implemented by operators to encourage active travel and modal shift"

The two announcements seem to contradict each other, as on one hand, Edinburgh Council are talking road closures and fewer bus stops compared to the Scottish Government wanting to invest in improved infrastructure for buses.

Watch this space!