In Pictures - New book Lothian Buses: 100 Years and Beyond marks the centenary of Edinburgh’s public transport service

For 100 years the good people of Edinburgh have been transported around the Capital by the city’s public transport system.

Thursday, 27th June 2019, 5:23 pm
A part of Granton no longer served by buses. 1982 Alexander bodied Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 630 (CSG 630X) climbs from Granton Square on service 9 which used to operate to Torphin.

From the horse-drawn omnibuses of the early days to the motor buses and trolley buses that followed, leading to the original trams and now, today’s super-buses, getting around the city has always been accessible to all.

To mark the centenary, a new book, Lothian Buses: 100 Years and Beyond, by Edinburgh bus historian Richard Walter, has been published by Amberley Books.

While compiling it, the author found himself reflecting on the uniqueness of the city’s bus service, in that routes have changed little since its inception.

Somewhere over a rainbow - you might find Wrightbus Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL905 (SN08 BXV) in advertising livery for EBay. The location of the pot of gold was Sheriffhall Park and Ride in 2018.

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He explains, “Edinburgh is a unique city in that it is very difficult to avoid crossing the centre as the hub of activity - shops and offices - is within the Princes Street area.

“The High Street, Royal Mile and historic old town cause some challenges in transport access but generally there is an infrastructure in place that is reliable and works well.

“Unlike other places, including London, routes tend to serve areas on either side of the centre and cross the city rather than terminate there.

“This has meant that many key routes have remained very close to their origins.

1964 Alexander E bodied Leyland Titan PD3/6 673 (ASC 673B) was one of a number of similar vehicles to carry broadside advertising - in this case for Cutty Sark Blended Scotch Whisky. The tram board it carries for Edinburgh Zoo on service 26 is relevant as that route still takes many people to the zoo albeit with Volvo Geminis carrying special branding.

“Some have been extended like the No 26 which now serves areas in East Lothian.

“Circular routes like the No 1 and No 19 are no longer operating but they still serve much of the areas they always have.

“And Morningside remains almost the same with the 5, 11, 16 and 23 still serving it has it has done for many years.”

Richard’s fascination with the Capital’s buses began as a teenager.

December 2018 and the launch of Lothians Alexander Dennis Enviro400 XLB bodied Volvo B8L tri axle buses - the first buses in almost 20 years to feature dual doors.

“It was probably due to the vehicles themselves but has grown over the years to be about how the whole operation works in meeting the changing needs of the travelling public,” he says.

“My reasons for compiling the book was to give a flavour of how things have changed but also how other things have stayed much the same.

“It’s not intended to be a comprehensive history of buses in the Lothians but rather a personal view of some of my favourite points of time.

“Obviously vehicle types, liveries and management teams have changed, but Edinburgh and Lothian residents can still be proud of the high standard of public transport that is renowned all over the world.”

Edinburgh has suffered some very wintry weather over the years although in more recent years conditions have been kinder. Alexander bodied Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 609 (OSC 609V) on a very snowy Frogston Road with a friendly wave from the driver.

Lothian Buses: 100 Years and Beyond, by Richard Walter, is published by Amberley Books, £14.99

For the 2018 Lothian Buses Vintage Bus Running Day, a surprise vehicle running a section of route 7 was AEC Routemaster RCL2241 (CUV 241C) with blinds fitted. The vehicle is one of a number of vehicles expertly restored by the company from open top buses run in Edinburgh. They are part of the large Heritage Fleet and available for weddings and private hire from Lothian Motorcoaches.
There have been a number of routes featuring different styles of route branding over the years. 2006 Wrightbus Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL 767 (SN56 ABZ) was one of several allocated to service 31 with the Ace of Spades tag line on the then Harlequin style livery and is seen heading through Newington.