Thursday, 26 May 2016

Good news and bad news for First Scotland East

First off, the good news is that First Bus in West Lothian is to invest £4.1 million for 19 new low emission buses.

More new buses set for West Lothian!

We are delighted to announce details of another significant order for new vehicles for our West Lothian Network. We're investing £4.1m in 19 new buses.

Our latest order brings our total investment in West Lothian to £8m since 2014. Our investment, which features 19 double deck ADL 400's, is great news for customers and colleagues in West Lothian and Edinburgh. We're committed to providing high quality services, ensuring our customers travel in modern, comfortable and fit for purpose vehicles.

All the new buses will feature the latest technology with free on board Wi-Fi and USB charging points, allowing customers to charge their phones and tablets on the move. They will also feature leather seats and will be fitted with CCTV.

All 19 new buses will be fitted with the latest Euro 6 engines, which produce 95% less oxides of nitrogen emissions compared to buses with Euro 5 engines. This helps support our local authority partners by improving air quality in the towns and cities we operate.

The new buses are expected to be on the road by the end of August and we are confident our customers will be impressed!

The bad news is that First Bus is to cease their operations in East Lothian.

First Bus to axe all East Lothian services threatening 88 jobs

NEARLY 90 jobs are under threat after First Scotland East announced today it would axe all bus services in East Lothian from August and close depots in Musselburgh and North Berwick.

The operator said 88 posts were “at risk” and routes in the area had not been viable for several years.

It comes four years after First significantly reduced its services in East Lothian with the closure of its Dalkeith depot.

Lothian Buses replaced services on several routes.

In all, First will axe 35 services, including routes to Galashiels in the Borders and Stirling.

First Scotland East managing director Paul McGowan said: “I’m disappointed that we’re proposing to withdraw from Musselburgh and North Berwick.

“We will today engage with the local authority on the future of bus services.

“However, given there are other bus operators that operate in and around the area, I’m confident if we decide to go ahead with these proposals the majority of our customers won’t be left without a service.”

Lothian Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “The potential loss of these jobs is terrible news for the individuals and families concerned and for the wider East Lothian economy.

“Public transport needs radically improved in East Lothian with many local people dependent on buses and often overcrowded trains for work, healthcare and social journeys.

“Today’s announcement shows the danger of leaving such a vital public service in the hands of private firms.

“The withdrawal of First bus services could leave a serious gap, and I would urge East Lothian Council and Lothian Buses to look at ways to provide those services.”

It's worth noting that their competitor, Lothian Buses, is owned by Transport for Edinburgh and East Lothian and Midlothian councils, which makes Lothian Buses a municipal bus company.

My own thoughts are that First bus in East Lothian should transfer their Dalkeith depot to Lothian Buses, in order to cause minimal disruption to the services. Now compare this to London where the bus routes are regulated; there have been cases where First London sold their operations and novated their contracts to competing bus operating companies.

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Image attribution
By Calum Cape from glenrothes , United Kingdom - SN55 HFD, CC BY 2.0,

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