BOSSES at Lothian Buses have announced sweeping changes to the way dozens of services operate.
Days after it emerged the 49 route between Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Midlothian would be slashed, changes to a raft of other services have been announced.
Due to come into force on October 4, the alterations will see bus frequency reduced in a number of districts.
In the Capital, the 44 and 44A services will operate less often in the early mornings and evenings, with only three X44 buses running between Balerno and the city centre in the afternoon.
And Sunday services on the number 6 route – which covers Hanover Street, The Mound and Holyrood – will be axed due to low passenger numbers. However, bus bosses have stressed that many services will be enhanced or extended.
A limited-stop service, the X33, will be created, operating from Mayfield, Dalkeith and Danderhall at peak times between Monday and Friday. And buses running on the X29, X31 and X37 Midlothian commuter routes will have stop patterns reviewed to reduce journey times to and from the Capital.
Community and political representatives today expressed frustration at the planned changes, describing them as a “mixed bag”.
Hugh Watt, treasurer at Balerno Community Council, said: “Any reduction would be hard-felt by the community council.
“It’s not that very long ago that they increased the service, especially on the X44 and 44A. I know some of the X44s run very closely with the 44A – maybe there’s a duplication there. The 44 service is very popular. Any reduction is unwelcome but I think you have to accept Lothian Buses know how well patronised their services are.”
Councillor Rob Aldridge, Liberal Democrat member for Drum Brae-Gyle and member of the city’s transport and environment committee, said: “I can understand that frequency will be altered according to the need but if there are lifeline services affected then the committee would look at whether there’s a need to have additional support for those.
“It’s a mixed bag but any business has to manage its operations effectively – [and] it looks like some people are going to get an improved service, which is to be welcomed.”
Lothian Buses chiefs said changes were designed to ensure an efficient and cost-effective service.
Head of operations Sarah Boyd said: “While it is disappointing that we are having to make minor reductions to a small number of routes and timetables, we are pleased to be able to offer faster journeys for a number of communities by introducing new or improved timetables on our Midlothian and East Lothian commuter routes.
“We are confident that these changes will prove popular with our existing customers while encouraging new customers to the bus who may otherwise have made their journey by car.”