New subsidised bus services to provide cut-off communities with vital links to the centre of Edinburgh are being proposed by council chiefs.
They include a brand new direct route from Ratho to the city centre and a new route from Dumbiedykes to Craigleith via the city centre. The move follows campaigns by residents in Ratho and Dumbiedykes after previous services were withdrawn.
Transport and environment convener Scott Arthur said the longer-term hope was that once the services had been established with council support, they would attract more passengers and become viable routes which could be run commercially without a subsidy.
Locals in Ratho have long campaigned for a direct bus service to central Edinburgh and have complained about a reduced and unreliable service from First Bus and then McGill’s, which only takes them as far as Chesser. Last year, there were commuters from Ratho heading to Edinburgh who had to walk over a mile in the dark to catch a bus because their normal service did not turn up.
And residents in Dumbiedykes described their uphill struggle, without a bus serving the area, to walk up what they call “Oxygen Brae” to get shops and other services in the Pleasance and the Southside.
Now, the possible new routes will be discussed by the transport and environment committee on Thursday, November 16. Cllr Arthur said: “In some cases where routes are not viable, te council does run supported services. The public transport team in the council has been working quite closely with the industry and also residents to come up with supported services that work right for the city.
“There is a route that connects Ratho to Hermiston Gait, where people can either connect to another bus service or connect to the tram, but we’re also going to look at a direct route which connects Ratho to the city centre.” However he said there was a potential clash with other operators running buses on part of the proposed route. “It doesn’t make sense to be competing with a viable route,” he said.
Another proposal was a route between Dumbiedkyes and Cragleith via the city centre. “Even though Dumbiedykes is quite close to the city centre, they’re not very well connected just now, so we think we can work with a provider there to deliver a much better service. The issue there is the roads are very narrow, so we’re looking at a provider who could run quite a small bus.”
And a third potential new route would connect Cramond to Balerno via the Gyle. Cllr Arthur said: “There is a need for services that don’t go via the city centre, but try to connect more peripheral areas directly. We recognise that in Cramond and Balerno there are people who work in the Gyle or Gyle Park, so providing a bus link for them should fulfil that need.
“With all of these, we are hopeful this is a transition to a commercially-operated service on these routes rather the council funding them indefinitely.”