Edinburgh tour buses forced to relocate from St Andrew Square to Waterloo Place
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Tour buses are to be moved away from Edinburgh's St Andrew Square after businesses in nearby offices complained about crowds outside their premises.
From Sunday the colourful double-deckers and open-top buses which take tourists around the Capital's favourite attractions will start and finish their trips at Waterloo Place. The bus operators are said not to be happy about the change of location but agreed to it on a trial basis. The buses previously operated from Waverley Bridge but were forced to move from there when the area was pedestrianised under the Spaces for People scheme, an arrangement intended to become permanent.
A council source said businesses in St Andrew Square had complained they were not consulted about the decision to base the buses there. "Some of the buildings on the north side, where the buses are, have recently been developed or are soon to be developed and they see the tour buses are not being a good mix with the kind of businesses they are trying to run. A lot of them are high-end offices. They argue there are too many people in a confined area – if there are a lot of people waiting for the buses there can be a bit of a logjam at times. The bus operators aren't happy about it - they would rather be back at Waverley Bridge, but that's not going to happen."
The tour buses are seen as a major attraction in Edinburgh and also as playing a vital role in giving visitors easy access between the city centre and other attractions in te Capital, including the Royal Yacht Britannia and Edinburgh Zoo. The two main operators – Edinburgh Bus Tours, owned by Lothian Buses, and Bright Bus Tours, owned by McGill’s – are said between them to have a turnover of up to £10m.
Despite the relocation, tour buses will still stop in St Andrew Square to pick up and drop off passengers, but the expectation is that most of the activity will switch to Waterloo Place.
Transport convener Scott Arthur said: "The tour bus operations in Edinburgh are key to the success of our tourist economy, and are significant attractions in their own right. The two key players have a modern fleet, and all those owned by Lothian Buses are 100 per cent LEZ compliant. With almost no notice, the tour bus operations were moved to St Andrews Square from Waverley Bridge as part of Spaces for People. This is a situation which has please nobody, particularly businesses on St Andrews Square. The council has worked in partnership with the tour operators and local businesses to move activity to Waterloo Place on a trial basis throughout the busy summer period. If this succeeds, it will become their permanent home.”
Willie Hamilton, operations director at Lothian Buses, said: “Edinburgh Bus Tours is a five-star Visit Scotland tourist attraction which plays a significant part in tourism across the city. Our departure point will relocate to Waterloo Place on a trial basis from Sunday March 5. We look forward to welcoming visitors and residents as they explore our capital city this summer.” McGill's Bus Group declined to comment.