Old Town OAPs fume at ‘catastrophic’ 35 bus diversion for Edinburgh Festival

Elderly people in the centre of the Capital say they are being isolated and forgotten about by the council after the number 35 bus was rerouted for the festival period.

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 8:04 pm

Edinburgh City Council took the decision to close the Royal Mile as part of its Summertime Streets project.

This meant Lothian buses rerouted the number 35 bus around Calton Hill instead of up the Mile.

However, a communications failure has left several vulnerable elderly people unaware of a free taxi service which is available throughout the rerouting of the bus.

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Margaret Durkin and Margaret Bishop are upset that the number 35 bus has been rerouted. Picture: Greg Macvean

Margaret Bishop, 80, and Margaret Durkin, 79, are friends who live in Chessel’s Court off Canongate and were not aware of the taxis.

Mrs Bishop said: “The decision is solely for tourists to walk about. We pay our Council Tax. Are we going to get a month and a half free Council Tax? ”

“It will be very isolating if you can’t get out. It makes me feel like we just don’t matter. The people paying into the council just don’t matter.”

Mrs Durkin added: “It is absolutely catastrophic. It is absolutely disgraceful. My carer had a hell of a time coming in in the car.

“They will now have to turn round in the Canongate to go down to Leith to do any shopping.

“With old people they are trying to isolate us anyway in the house.

“Not everybody can do online banking or mobile banking, I’m registered blind, I can’t do those things without somebody with me.”

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “Summertime Streets is as much about creating a safe, liveable environment for residents as it is for visitors.

“By restricting traffic on some streets we want to reduce the pressure caused by increased footfall, making it easier to walk around during the busy festival period.

“Of course this will have an impact on some transport links and we have made every effort to maintain these where possible. While we originally expected that Lothian buses would find a way to continue the service, the alternative registered taxi service now being provided by the council is designed to minimise the impact of this temporary change on our central residents, especially those who are vulnerable.

“In June we wrote to all those living nearby to let them know about these arrangements, with information on how to order a council-provided taxi.”