Edinburgh buses: Hundreds of residents sign petition calling for direct bus link from Leith to Portobello

Leith and Portobello residents would like to see a new route connecting their vibrant communities

A petition has been launched to create a “long overdue” bus link between two popular Edinburgh neighbourhoods – The Shore in Leith and Portobello. The campaign aims to connect two “vibrant neighbouring communities” via a bus link that would travel along Seafield Road – cutting down journey times and encourage people to use public transport between the two frequented destinations.

Leith resident of 12 years, Sarah Wright, launched the petition last weekend and the local campaign has already generated more than half of its target of 1,000 signatures.

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Ms Wright said: “The Shore area is so close to Portobello and it just seems mad there’s not a bus that goes down there. I thought I would test the waters to see if it’s just me that thinks that or if there was a lot more local support for it and I was a little bit shocked to see how many people wanted it.”

Sarah Wright with her petition for a bus route between Leith Shore and Portobello

Reaching 400 signatures on its first day, the petition has now amassed nearly 700 signatures, with plans to offer the petition results and community feedback to Lothian Buses in the coming weeks.

Ms Wright, who frequently travels from Leith to Portobello to visit friends and take her children to attractions at the seaside beauty spot, said the idea to launch a campaign came after speaking to other residents who have pondered why there is no direct route for a number of years.

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The mother of two said: “I’ve seen support coming from both Portobello and Leith residents and I’ve been quite pleasantly surprised that the vast amount of comments have been really positive and in favour of it.” Despite the distance between the popular Edinburgh neighbourhoods being only a few miles apart, bus users say long travel times and inconvenience of using two buses if off putting for many.

Ms Wright said a new direct bus link would also help businesses and serve a growing population in Leith, Seafield and Portobello where a number of new housing developments have been built seeing thousands of new residents come to the area.

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The petition aims to better connect two 'vibrant communities' with a new direct bus service. Writing on the petition, Ms Wright said: “We believe that beach trips and Shore drinks should be easier for everyone!” Photo Credit: (Left) Alljengi, Flickr. (Right) Billy Wilson, Flickr

Current public transport links between the two coastal areas mean bus users need to either use two bus services or travel along an indirect route, meaning longer bus journeys and additional walking once they get off the bus.

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Ms Wright said: “It definitely does put you off. I’ve always driven, walked or taken a taxi because [the bus route] is not convenient. To get from the Shore to Portobello you’re talking 45 minutes to an hour whereas if it just went directly it would be a fraction of the time.”

It is understood that Lothian Buses withdrew a route along Seafield Road in previous years due to low uptake of the service, but residents say new housing developments in recent years – with more on the way – mean the bus service should be reconsidered.

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‘It’s a no brainer’

Ms Wright said: “There seemed to be a consensus that the reason Lothian Buses took it off was because there wasn’t enough take up of the service which is absolutely understandable. But I think the amount of development that’s going on down there means it is a completely different context now because there has been so many houses built and there are so many in the pipeline as well.

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“The traffic on that route is definitely going to get busier if there’s not a public transport connection because of all the development that’s going on. I think if there was a direct route it would have an impact in terms of people leaving their cars behind so it is definitely better for the environment for sure. There’s over 600 people now who have said they would want to use that service and that’s before we even add in all the [new] developments as well.”

She added: “I totally get that there might be some reservations from Lothian Buses if they have withdrawn a route in the past due to low use or not being financially viable so all we would really like to see is a pilot just to check it out and see if it is something worthwhile now. We wouldn’t expect them to commit to anything and it wouldn’t necessarily need to be a new route either it could be an extension of an existing route.”

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Taking to social media, residents from Leith, Portobello and neighbouring areas supported the petition, stating that a direct service should already be in place. Several Portobello residents added they would be more inclined to visit Leith at night for food and drinks if a faster service was introduced.

Many capital residents who signed the petition also submitted comments – the vast majority agreeing that a direct link is “a no brainer”. One person wrote: “It makes sense to have a straight route along the coast if we're trying to get people out of cars into active travel” with another adding “It's a huge gap in the route map.”

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Others said, "It's long overdue” and “It just makes sense!” while another remarked “It would connect vibrant communities and open up options for young and old.” One resident said there is high demand for a direct service due to “populations booming in Porty and Leith” and another added that the absence of a fast bus link is a “glaring omission in the otherwise comprehensive system of buses in Edinburgh.

Lothian Buses have been approached for comment.