SOUTH Queensferry is set to lose its only direct bus link to the centre of Edinburgh after Stagecoach announced it was withdrawing the service.
Community leaders warned that the No 40 was a “lifeline” service which many people relied on and said they hoped another company would step in to ensure it continued.
Stagecoach has operated the route for the past three years, but says the service has become unsustainable. The company will pull out in June.
Terry Airlie, secretary of Queensferry and District Community Council, said the move did not come as a total surprise. “First Bus pulled out about three years ago because they were losing money and Stagecoach cut back on frequency last year. It’s busy in the rush hours, but generally not enough people use it.”
But he said the service was nonetheless vital. “It’s a lifeline service for a lot of people. There has to be a bus connection along the A90 corridor.”
Residents who use the bus have vented their frustration on the community council Facebook page, complaining they will be “potentially stranded”.
Edinburgh Western Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said South Queensferry was a growing area but the bus route was not sustainable, partly due to a bottleneck at Barnton increasing journey times. “People just choose to take their cars into town. But not everyone in South Queensferry has a car – and not everyone can choose or afford to use the train from Dalmeny.”
Pensions workers Michelle Lewis, 49, who uses the No 40 to get to work daily, said it was late every day but trains were so busy it was sometimes impossible to get on. “We pay Edinburgh council tax so we’re entitled to a bus service like everyone else – and one where the fare is £1.60 not £3.90. If people switch to cars it means more pollution and traffic jams.”
In a statement, Stagecoach said: “We have seen a significant fall in demand from customers in the South Queensferry area, to below the level needed to even cover the costs of operation. The route has also been affected by traffic congestion affecting journeys towards the city centre. Planned frequency changes on the tram network, combined with upcoming roadworks, are expected to have an even greater impact on journey times. This damages reliability, pushes up operational costs and makes bus travel less attractive to passengers.”
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said she was disappointed at Stagecoach’s decision. But she added: “I have a meeting tomorrow with Lothian Buses to see if they are able to step in and provide the service on a commercial basis. If not, the council will have to have further discussions on how people in South Queensferry can have a good, efficient, affordable bus service.”