Lothian Buses’ plan to slash frequency of 49 slammed

Councillor Derek Milligan is angry that Lothian Buses is going to reduce the 49 service to half hourly. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Councillor Derek Milligan is angry that Lothian Buses is going to reduce the 49 service to half hourly. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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A BUS service which connects Midlothian with the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is being slashed.

Four number 49 Lothian Buses currently run every hour between the hospital and the towns of Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Rosewell.

If Lothian Buses are cutting my options in half will they be refunding half my £612 per year pass?

Douglas Ramsay

But that will be cut to two services under new timetables being brought into force early next month.

The 49 will run between Portobello and Sheriffhall Park and Ride every 15 minutes. However, only every second bus will carry on to the towns.

Lothian Buses said not enough passengers were using the service to sustain the current frequency. But local councillors and residents have voiced anger at the cutbacks.

Staff at the Scottish Qualifications Authority headquarters based in Dalkeith have also complained about the timetable changes.

Hundreds of regular passengers have signed an online petition calling for Lothian Buses to perform a U-turn.

Bonnyrigg councillor Derek Milligan, who represents Labour, said he had attended a meeting with Lothian Buses bosses who told him there was no room for negotiation.

Cllr Milligan said: “I have been meeting with the bus company on a regular basis and discussions have all been around numbers going up to such an extent it hasn’t been two years that they had to put on a double-decker bus service.”

He said he would now write to the bus firm in the “strongest terms” and said residents in Midlothian would be “extremely hacked off”.

Cllr Milligan said: “The company has just announced record passenger numbers and record profits.

“Here we have the second biggest town with its main bus service cut in half.”

However, he added: “I have been told it is a done deal and it is not for debate.”

Local residents took to social media to voice their concerns and an online petition has almost 500 signatures.

Douglas Ramsay said: “The 49 is the only bus I use, every Monday to Friday to Danderhall. This will have a huge impact on myself and many colleagues at the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

“Aside from that, if Lothian Buses are cutting my options in half will they be refunding half of my £612 per year pass? No, didn’t think so.”

Fellow passenger Dionne Urban added: “The 49 bus is always a busy bus! This is really not a good idea!”

Sarah Boyd, head of bus operations at Lothian Buses, said: “In recent years, we have increased the frequency of the 49 to keep pace with growing passenger demand between the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Portobello.

“We had hoped that over time, the higher frequency would generate additional passengers in Midlothian. However, the number of passengers using the service in the area still remains significantly lower than the number needed to sustain the current level of daytime frequency.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com