Readers react to Lothian Buses suspension of all Edinburgh evening services
Hundreds of Edinburgh Evening News readers have responded to a decision by Lothian Buses to suspend all evening services following a spate of antisocial behaviour targeted at their drivers.
The company says all journeys across the city due to depart terminal points after 7.30pm – including services operating on Lothian Buses, Lothian Country and East Coast Buses – will not operate on Wednesday night. This applies to evening services only - night bus services are expected to operate as normal.
Readers have since reacted to the decision which was made following one of the latest attacks when vandals targeted eight buses serving the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on Monday night in Old Dalkeith Road or Gilmerton Road, between 7.25pm and 8.50pm.
Many commenteres have been sympathetic towards the company’s decision.
Reader Susan Brown said: “Quite right too, drivers have been working hard throughout this covid and don’t deserve being treated like this. Totally unacceptable.”
Another, Fiona Fowler, said: “It’s dreadful behaviour. I totally understand why this decision has been taken. The people doing this need to be found and charged. I feel for the drivers and also those who need buses to get to and from shifts.”
Reader Nige Barton however said the solution is not to suspend services, but to crack down more on the vandals.
He said: “I understand that we need to protect the drivers and passengers, but withdrawing a public service for those workers that need to travel to and from shifts is putting them at risk if they have no option but to walk. Higher visibility policing needs to be implemented and tougher sanctions on these little rats.”
NHS worker Julie Fitzsimmons also disagreed with the decision and said buses must stay in service to support key workers and to protect their safety walking to and from work during early and late times of the day.
She said: “Key workers shafted again. I am a nurse at the Royal Infirmary and at least half of my colleagues take the bus to and from work.
"Let’s hope none of them are attacked walking home in the dark tonight. I agree nobody should tolerate antisocial behaviour but at least keep the service for key workers who can show their ID badge.”
Other readers were unreservedly against the decision.
Jacqui Gordon was quick to criticise the move saying: “So the nurse who has just put her life on the line caring for patients with or without Covid for the last 13 hours now has to either walk home or pay a fortune for a taxi out of their already over stretched wage. This is really fair.”
Debra Davies said: “It worries me that women, who are already scared to be travelling at night, may be let down badly by this and will have to pay out for cabs or, even worse, walk.”
Fraser Maclean disagreed with the decision and suggested that the bus drivers choose different routes to avoid where the vandals are gathering rather than suspend all services.
He said: “It’s understandable, but not sure I can agree with it as it puts people like nurses in a position of having to walk home late at night.
"Just divert the route from the neighbourhoods where this is happening.”
Others said a heavier police presence is required in the areas to crack down on the spate of antisocial behaviour.
Lothian Buses says that services are expected to return as scheduled on Thursday, 18 March but will be kept under review with services diverted away from any area targeted by further attacks until it’s safe to return.
Chief Insp Taylor said police have been working with the bus company to tackle the surge in antisocial behaviour in the past three weeks through Operation Proust.
Officers have been patrolling on buses, in vehicles, and on foot in areas affected and have so far identified and charged 18 young people.
Police have also engaged with more than 140 young people to ensure relevant safety and prevention messaging is delivered.
Other measures have included visits to parents of youths identified as being involved and warning letters issued.
Last weekend, Lothian suspended evening services in Clermiston following the assault of a bus driver in the Drum Brae Drive area. Police later confirmed that a 14-year-old boy was charged in connection with the assault.
Other incidents have included a bus driver being injured in Niddrie when the front window was smashed.
On Tuesday, one Lothian employee told the Edinburgh Evening News that drivers are “genuinely scared” about driving at night just now as it is happening on “almost a nightly basis.”
The employee fears there is potential for rolling closures of ‘no go’ areas across the city as the scale and frequency of vandalism is something “we have never seen before.”
Edinburgh City Council’s transport convener, Lesley Macinnes, said: “Like everyone who’s seen coverage of the horrendous attacks on our bus services in recent days I’ve been utterly appalled by the reckless and intimidating behaviour of those behind the assaults. Enough is enough, it has to stop.
“I’m completely behind Lothian’s decision to withdraw bus services tonight as a clear message that this criminal targeting of a vital public service will not be tolerated. Anyone out there who thinks they know someone who’s involved in this despicable campaign of antisocial behaviour needs to do the right thing and report it to police right away.”
All customers are urged to plan their journeys in advance through Lothian’s app (www.tfe.com) or website journey planner (www.lothianbuses.co.uk)