New Edinburgh bus stops slated for lack of shelter

Melanie Jones at a shelter in Elm Row. Picture: Greg Macvean
Melanie Jones at a shelter in Elm Row. Picture: Greg Macvean
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They are sleek, modern and brand new, with an impressive array of facilities, including the chance to charge your phone while you wait for the bus.

There’s just one thing that Edinburgh’s brand new bus shelters, now popping up across the city as part of a six-month replacement scheme, seem unable to do – offer much protection from the Scottish weather.

I saw one of the new bus stops and thought, ‘Hang on, it’s only got two sides’

MARY GORDON

Provided by French street furniture giant JCDecaux under a £5 million contract, shelters in Princes Street are fitted with touchscreen information displays that will eventually allow passengers to browse for shops, restaurants and events.

But some of the new bus stops have come in for criticism over the lack of protection from the elements, with shelters completely open on two sides.

Critics claim design has won over practicality, with passengers left at the mercy of howling winds and driving rains that sadly dominate conditions in Edinburgh.

They also argued that the tinted glass roofs are redundant, given the lack of sunshine.

Leith resident Mary Gordon, 46, criticised the shelters, saying the city “might as well not have the shelter at all”.

She said: “I don’t have a car, so I use the bus system a lot. I only realised they were ripping them all out when I saw one of the new bus stops and thought, ‘Hang on, it’s only got two sides’.

“In winter, it will be no protection whatsoever from the wind. You might as well not have the shelter at all.”

Her concerns were echoed by charity Age Scotland, with a spokesman saying: “We would hope that this change has come about in consultation with bus users to help with the accessibility for wheelchairs and that consideration has also been given to older passengers who may be more susceptible to Scotland’s inclement weather.”

City transport leader Lesley Hinds praised the new technology introduced as part of the JCDecaux shelters in Princes Street. She said: “One of the great things about the new bus shelters is the phone charging points, which will help those travelling around or visiting the city to stay connected.”

The council said the shelters had been designed following talks with architects and passengers.

A spokesman said: “Their enclosed structure enables increased accessibility by wheelchair users as well as allowing the smooth flow of pedestrian traffic, including wheelchairs and prams, around the shelters. In addition, tinted glass roofs and energy-efficient lighting create a brighter atmosphere for those waiting on buses.”

JCDecaux declined to comment.