Hope for campaign to save bus service

Emma Philips
Emma Philips
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Two “vital” bus services recently cut back could be in for six-month reprieve following crisis talks.

Last month, Lothian Buses announced that the number 42 – which used to run from Leith to Davidson’s Mains via the south of the city and Stockbridge – would terminate at Craigleith Retail Park.

The change, announced as part of the operator’s annual network review, meant that from April 23 the bus would no longer stop at Blackhall, Drylaw or Davidson’s Mains.

Lothian Buses also revealed the number 45 – from Riccarton to Queen Margaret University – would have its Saturday service withdrawn.

The firm previously argued both changes were a result of low passenger numbers, but critics hit back, saying they would result in residents losing vital transport links.

Paul Lawrence, the city council’s executive director of place, this week emailed councillors outlining “significant concern” from the local community over the impact of the plans.

He wrote: “I am therefore proposing to write to Lothian Buses requesting that they consider reinstating these elements for a six-month period.

“The estimated cost for these services operating for six months would be £118,300 and, if agreed, these costs would be met from the additional one-off funding allocated to transport in the February budget settlement.”

Read more: Lothian Buses faces local backlash over route changes

Emma Phillips, chair of Craigleith and Blackhall Community Council, was among those who campaigned against the number 42’s reduction.

She said a six-month reinstatement of the its previous route would be a “positive step” but stressed the ideal scenario would be for this to become permanent.

She said: “These changes have a massive impact on people’s lives – there are kids who can’t travel to school now, there are people who can’t travel to their workplace, there are disabled people who don’t know how they are going to get about town. If they reintroduced it we’ll encourage people to use it and get people out of their cars.”

Lesley Hinds, transport and environment leader at the city council, said the offer was the result of “hard work” from ward councillors and a number of community councils.

Cllr Hinds said all political parties had now provided their agreement, adding: “I’m just delighted that we have found the resource to do this.

“We hope Lothian Buses will accept this offer and will get these two services up and running again as quickly as possible.”

A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “During our recent network review, the decision was taken to make changes to services 42 and 45, due to sustained losses on both services.

“As a commercial business we can only operate services where there is sufficient customer demand and from time to time we need to amend our network to minimise these losses, whilst ensuring as few customers as possible are affected by the impact of such changes.

“Once a course of action has been agreed by the city council, we will be happy to discuss this matter further.”