Deal on horizon to launch ‘lifeline’ bus link replacement

Lothian Buses could be stepping in to offer a replacement. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Lothian Buses could be stepping in to offer a replacement. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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Lothian Buses is set to save a “lifeline” bus service due to be withdrawn in a matter of weeks.

Council chiefs have been in talks with the operator ever since Stagecoach announced it would be withdrawing the No 40 – the only direct bus link from South Queensferry to the city centre – from June 6.

Stagecoach has operated the service for the last three years but said it had since become “unsustainable”.

Community leaders are now hoping Lothian Buses will step in, with the operator needing to register the new bus link by next Monday in order for its arrival to coincide with the No 40 coming out of service.

Talks between the council and Lothian Buses got under way in March after Stagecoach revealed the No 40’s fate.

Council transport leader Lesley Hinds, who spearheaded the talks, said she had approached Lothian Buses as soon as Stagecoach announced its plans for the No 40.

She said: “I have been given assurance from both officers and Lothian Buses a commercial bus service will be provided from Monday, June 6. I would urge Lothian Buses to register services as quickly as possible to give confidence to both the community and the council.”

In a recent e-mail to the council, the operator stated it had been “working hard” to “gather enough data in order to make an informed decision over whether or not we could put together a commercially viable proposition to replace in some way the bus services abandoned by Stagecoach in South Queensferry”.

It went on: “We are however close now to undertaking a final consolidation on this data which will allow us to 
understand exactly what potentially may be able to be operated and provide a positive outcome and conclusion for you.”

Terry Airlie, secretary of Queensferry and District Community Council, said the No 40 had been relied on by many local residents.

He said: “The Stagecoach service itself as well as providing transport to and from Edinburgh also provides transport around the town. Without the Stagecoach bus there’s not really a suitable service to move around the town for elderly people to access the medical centre and shops.”

Mr Airlie he would be delighted if Lothian Buses decided to offer an alternative.

He added: “The community council welcomes the news that the Lothian [Buses] seemed like they were going to step in.

“We also welcome any opportunity to discuss with Lothian [Buses] the operational details in relation to route, timetable and fares.”

A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “We do, as always, investigate any potential opportunities, however there’s nothing more we can say at this time.”

florence.snead@jpress.co.uk