Edinburgh's City Centre Transformation: Lothian Buses 'given positive platform to embrace change'

ROADS chiefs have given “absolute assurances” that Lothian Buses will play a key role in shaping a 10-year strategy to overhaul the Capital’s transport network.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 5:38 pm
Lothian Buses has raised concerns about the impact of the city centre transformation

Senior officials have blasted critics for accusing the city council of wrecking Edinburgh’s bus network in the city centre transformation proposals.

Lothian Buses has raised concerns that proposals to reduce the number of bus stops “would impact on service provision and put greater pressure on remaining stops”. The company added that some measures to pedestrianise streets “could displace traffic, congesting bus routes”. Concerns were also highlighted by the firm, which is owned by the city council, that a proposed free hopper bus “could take paying customers from the commercial network, thereby affecting viability”.

But project director, Daisy Narayanan told councillors that the company would be part of the process from start to finish.

She added: “Lothian Buses have expressed their concerns. We have to work closely with them to make sure this is a success.

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“The city centre bus network is very sensitive to change. Doing nothing is just not an option. Building on the success of bus services is critical to the city centre transformation.”

The council’s director of place, Paul Lawrence, gave the council’s transport and environment committee an “absolute assurance” that Lothian Buses are “absolutely stitched” into conversations about the city centre transformation.

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“We know that change will be required. We think this gives them that certainty to know what the future could look like and to plan their business for the future. This provides the most positive platform to embrace the changes and plan for the long term.”

Conservative transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, said there was “no detail” in the final strategy on the future of public transport.

He added: “Our particular concerns is a lack of detail around bus services. Council officers say the strategy is going to reduce journey times but Lothian Buses are clear that they believe that this project will increase journey times.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, called for the draft city mobility plan, set to be published in December, to show how the “commitment to prioritise public transport will be delivered” and how services running “to, from and through the city centre will be maintained”.

He added: “There have been legitimate and fair concerns over the impact on this strategy on public transport, and Lothian Buses in particular.

“I’m confident that officials recognise that this is a critical issue that will need to be focused on. That was never going to be sorted now.”

Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “These are ambitious plans which would entail a great deal of change for the city and we’re still at an early stage. This process will be about working closely with stakeholders, including public transport providers, heritage organisations and the business community, to ensure we strike a balance which delivers benefits for as many people as possible.

“City centre transformation is about creating a safe, accessible and sustainable city for future generations, and I know that there’s a consensus that we need to take action to achieve this. Rather than ‘wrecking’ our bus services, this is about reducing delays and improving reliability. We absolutely see bus transport as a sustainable, efficient alternative to the car.”