London buses on their way to Edinburgh

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THE vehicles may be a familiar sight tootling down The Mall and through Westminster – but London’s iconic red buses could be on their way to the capital north of the border.

Lothian Buses has acquired 40 second-hand buses from a firm in London, and following a refurbishment, will introduce the vehicles as part of its expanding fleet.

The company is keeping details of the new additions close to its chest – but Edinburgh commuters could enjoy buses with both a front and rear door, made famous by buses in the Big Smoke south of the border.

It is expected the second hand buses will be available for service within the next four to six weeks.

Lothian is aiming to reduce its emissions footprint by 42 per cent by 2020, and in line with this added six all electric buses to its ranks in September last year.

The bus company declined to give details about the new additions meaning it is unknown how environmentally friendly the vehicles are.

FLEET: Buses to be available within the next 4 to 6 weeks

FLEET: Buses to be available within the next 4 to 6 weeks

A Lothian spokesperson said: “Our Bus 2020 strategy is creating one of the greenest and most modern fleets in the UK and we’ve been recognised in awards for our environmental successes.

“The purchase of these buses is fully in line with that strategy and will help us improve the quality of our fleet even more. We’re excited about revealing more details once they are ready for service.”

The bus company recently announced single adult tickets will increase by 10p to £1.70 per journey.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “Lothian are doing a power of work to modernise their fleet and help us improve Edinburgh’s air quality. We very much welcome their efforts and look forward to hearing more about these new additions to their fleet in due course.”

Nick Cook, Conservative Morningside councillor and member of the Transport and Environment Committee, said: “News that Lothian Buses are purchasing 40 cast-off buses will raise a few eyebrows, especially since they have just hiked passenger fares.

“Given that Lothian buses rightly prides itself on its ‘green’ fleet, residents will also want assurances over the environmental credentials of these buses.”

It comes after a Scottish Government announcement that bus operators such as Lothian Buses will be able to apply for funding to add retrofit kits to their vehicles as part of a £1.6 million rollout.

The technology will help reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from older buses to achieve the Euro VI emission standard.

Cllr Steve Burgess, Green environment spokesperson, said: “Lothian Buses have rightly made great play of their investment in cleaner engines and electric buses, and they’ve shown leadership in this area which puts them ahead of most other bus companies.

“So the devil is in the detail. If these second-hand buses have cleaner engines and are more efficient than the buses they are replacing then all well and good at least in the short term.”