MSPs demand answers over Lothian Buses' 'childish prank'

LOTHIAN Buses have been accused of adding insult to injury with their “childish prank” of fitting their coaches with personalised number plates targeted at rival operators.

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 7:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 6th June 2019, 8:06 pm
Lothian Buses launched Lothian Motorcoaches a year ago

The Evening News revealed on Thursday how the council-owned bus company had re-registered vehicles with numbers like LC19 AAA and LC19 RAB - seen as references to well-established private operators AAA Coaches and Rabbie’s Trailburners with whom they are in fierce competition.

One industry source estimated Lothian Buses must have spent up to £700 per bus on the plates.

Now MSPs have said the company must give an explanation for its behaviour.

Coaches have been given number plates with references to rival operators

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Almond Valley SNP MSP Angela Constance said she had met several West Lothian-based private coach hire companies who were concerned about Lothian Buses’ recent re-entry, through its subsidiary Lothian Motorcoaches, to the coach tour market where it had not been active since 2002.

“I know Lothian Buses says tourism is growing, but my point would be surely there is room for collaborative working and they need to be resisting these childish pranks which just add insult to injury.”

And she said it was right to demand answers from Lothian Buses about why money was being wasted on private number plates. Lothian Buses and Lothian Motorcoaches need to explain themselves in terms of professional conduct and financial probity.”

And she added: “As Edinburgh City Council is the major shareholder I would hope they would shows some leadership and sensitivity in this matter.”

Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs also criticised Lothian Buses. He said: “Questions need to be asked about why money is being spent on these number plates. It seems indulgent and quite personal - and private operators are obviously taking offence at them.

“This adds to a long list of questions over the use of resources to establish Lothian Motorcoaches and ongoing concern about the entry of Lothian Motorcoaches into the market. They are undercutting private operators and people are being laid off - this is just rubbing it in their faces.”

The council said it had received a complaint from private operators and had contacted Lothian Buses. Lothian Buses made no comment.