Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams to hike fares from next month

Tram and bus fares across Edinburgh and the Lothians will rise from next month - but chiefs insist their services still offer "excellent value for money".

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 3:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 9th January 2020, 6:13 pm

Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams have announced that the rise will take place from Sunday, February 2.

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The Lothian Buses increase will include its Lothian, Lothiancountry and EastCoastbuses services - with tram fare increases coming into force on the same day.

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Lothian Buses will increase fares from next month

The cost of an adult single bus ticket will increase by six per cent from next month from £1.70 to £1.80. However, the cost of child tickets will increase by 12.5 per cent from 80p to 90p and the cost of family day tickets will increase by 12 per cent from £8.50 to £9.50. Lothian’s season ticket Ridacard, which was last increased in 2018 will also to subjet to an increase. Airport fares on Lothian Buses will remain the same.

Nigel Serafini, commercial director at Lothian, said: “Lothian is committed to providing environmentally sustainable, best value travel. As our operating costs continue to rise and we continue to invest in fleet, people, training and our customer offering, we will be making changes to fares from 2 February.

“As well as continuing our investment in new environmentally friendly vehicles across 2020, Lothian is currently in the process of renewing its real time customer information system. Our revised fares continue to represent excellent value for money and remain amongst the lowest in the UK.”

Edinburgh Trams is also putting its single fares up by the same amount, while airport fares will rise by 50 pence for adults - with an open return to the airport now costing £9. A child open return to the airport will also cost £4.80 from next month.

Lea Harrison, managing director of Edinburgh Trams, said: “This is the first fares increase since early 2018. Over the years we have made significant improvements within the current line, more trams to meet with demand and running earlier and later.

"Increasing fares is never a popular choice, but it has been a necessary decision for Edinburgh Trams to make. These fare changes will help us to remain competitively priced, whilst allowing us to make more changes for the benefit of the customer.”

But Liberal Democrats have slammed the increase.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, “You have to wonder whether Lothian Buses actually want families on its buses.

“First we had problems with a lack of buggy space on Lothian’s new fleet of buses. Then we had the company’s failure to allow contactless family tickets. Now we have inflation busting increases in fares which will see families bearing the brunt. It is all further evidence of a system that is not working and shows why the council should have greater powers to set bus routes, frequencies and fares.”

The council's transport and environment vice convener, Cllr Karen Doran, said: “We want Lothian to offer their customers the very best value for money and these revised fares remain amongst the lowest in the UK.

“I look forward to seeing any additional revenue raised being reinvested into further improving their services while supporting our own ambitious plans to deliver reliable, accessible and sustainable travel options for our residents.”

Green councillors have raised concerns that fare increases will prevent people from choosing public transport over their cars.

Green Cllr Gavin Corbett said: “The fare rise comes in a week where new figures show bus passenger numbers in Scotland as a whole down by 15 per cent since the Scottish Parliament began in 1999, while bus fares have risen by almost 80 per cent and the cost of motoring has gone down by 25 per cent.

“In some ways Lothian Buses has been an exception to those trends, offering a highly-regarded and well-used service. However, even in Edinburgh it’s not enough just to tread water – to tackle congestion and pollution there needs to be a massive shift towards public transport. And to make that happen fares need to be kept reasonable and services expanded. It’s much better to do that than to spend £120m on a roundabout at Sheriffhall which will just lead to more cars clogging up the roads into Edinburgh.”

Conservative transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, added: "These substantial bus hikes are an unwelcome start to the new year for city commuters. However, given the significant commercial pressures arising from a swathe of the SNP-Labour run council's transport policies it is little surprise.

"Sadly I fear that these policies will mean we see fare rises like this more frequently."