ALEX Salmond has backed today’s planned talks between bus firms and councils over First axing services in Lothian villages.
Midlothian and East Lothian council chiefs are due to meet bosses from First, Lothian Buses and Transport Scotland.
It was revealed last week that First planned to close its Dalkeith depot and scale back operations at its Musselburgh base, putting 200 jobs at risk.
The First Minister said he hoped today’s talks would open the door to a solution, with seven Lothian communities fearing isolation without a bus network.
Mr Salmond said: “I have been very impressed by the efforts of East and Midlothian councils to find a way forward for the future provision of bus services in their areas.
“Safeguarding bus routes is a priority for this government and we recognise the lifeline it provides in communities across the country.
“I am pleased to see the same desire from the local councils.
“I am hopeful that the meeting will see some progress on this issue and take us closer to a solution that serves the needs of local commuters and protects as many local jobs as possible.”