900 sign petition to bring back bus service after suspension adds an hour to commute

More than 900 people have backed a petition calling for the reinstatement of a bus service whose suspension has added up to an hour to the commute from East Lothian to the Capital.

By Ian Swanson
Monday, 29th November 2021, 4:55 am

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The X5 service, which operated between North Berwick and Edinburgh, was suspended last year by East Coast Buses, a subsidiary of Lothian Buses, following the introduction of national lockdown restrictions.

But South of Scotland Tory MSP Craig Hoy says it is now to bring back the bus, which ran through North Berwick, Dirleton, Gullane, Aberlady and Longniddry directly on to Edinburgh via the A1.

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Craig Hoy is calling for the reinstatement of the X5 between North Berwick and Edinburgh

He said without the X5 commuters from Dirleton, Gullane and Aberlady now faced an extra hour onto their daily commute into Edinburgh.

He said: "For those communities there is no alternative direct public transport link into the city other than the longer 124 bus service which stops at Prestonpans, Wallyford, Musselburgh and Portobello."

He launched an online petition last month calling for the reinstatement of the service and it has now attracted received over 900 signatures.

Mr Hoy said he had contacted Lothian Buses on three occasions to organise a meeting to discuss the future of the service, but had received no response back.

He said: “In early October my office contacted East Coast Buses who issued a standard response outlining the reasons for continued withdrawal of the service, including challenges with recruitment, the need to prioritise key services and the focus on delivering the 124 service.

“I recognise these challenges, but I also recognise they apply across all routes across the whole of the Lothians and are not confined to the X5 route.

“I wrote to East Coast Buses on two occasions requesting a face to face meeting in order to present the petition and to discuss the specific impediments and resource allocations which are preventing the reinstatement of the service, and followed this up with a third letter to the interim managing director of Lothian Buses – however my correspondence has not been acknowledged.”

And he said Rural East Lothian Bus Users had submitted a detailed proposal to change local services to allow for the reinstatement of the X5 but it had not been acknowledged either.

“Lothian Buses is owned by the four Lothian councils, including East Lothian. That makes it accountable to the residents of our community.

“The number of signatures on the petition shows the clear strength of feeling in the area about reinstating the X5 bus

“At this point, Lothian Buses have their heads buried in the sand – they cannot keep ignoring our communities.”

A spokesperson for East Coast Buses said the company was “absolutely committed” to delivering for all its customers in East Lothian.

"Like many other transport providers at this time we are in an extremely challenging recruitment market, which coupled with our safety protocols for colleagues who find themselves in the Covid-19 track and trace cycle, means we are experiencing significant resourcing difficulties in our driving team on a day-to-day basis.

“We have made the difficult decision to prioritise key services which provide as many transport links as possible throughout East Lothian. In terms of service provision for Gullane and Aberlady, we have focused on delivering Service 124 which provides critical local links along the coast as well as direct travel to Edinburgh.”

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