THEY have traditionally required those caught short to “spend a penny” – now bus passengers could be asked to shell out 40.
Plans have been unveiled which would see the charge for using public toilets at Edinburgh Bus Station increase from 30p to 40p – sparking warnings that visitors and tourists are being treated as cash cows.
The current charges are believed to be among the highest in Scotland but the rise, if approved, is expected to make them the priciest in the country.
Bus station conveniences in most major Scottish cities and towns typically charge 30p, with passengers in Aberdeen and Stirling having free access to toilets in adjacent shopping centres.
The proposal – which equates to a 10p hike for around 300,000 annual users – has been hatched as the council battles to find savings worth £141 million over the next four years.
Figures in Edinburgh’s tourism sector have slammed the move and said it was particularly galling given ten public conveniences have already been slated for closure.
Five automated toilets, including two in St Andrew Square, have also been axed and are to be removed by contractor Clear Channel.
Justin Davis, who runs Edinburgh Free Tours and Edinburgh Pub Crawl, and deals with around 1000 visitors every month, said: “I think people coming to the city will be pretty annoyed about this.
“There’s now nowhere in the city you can go for a pee. It all seems a bit calculated – that the council wants to make a fast buck.
“I’m inclined to believe that this is skimping on cost because we are lacking money elsewhere. If you’re looking to close toilets and raise the price [for using the ones that remain] then it’s definitely a decision to make some cash. I don’t see any other way of looking at it.”
The council is offering local businesses £500 per year to open their toilets to the public in an attempt to provide alternatives to closed facilities.
Figures released earlier this year revealed 26 firms had signed up to the initiative and it is understood Lothian Buses could take on a lease for the loos at Granton Square and London Road. A city council spokeswoman said: “The budget process is in its very early stages, and it is important to remember these are only proposals. Public feedback is key to this process, and several proposals were changed last year after Edinburgh’s residents gave us their views.”