On 26 July a briefing was circulated to Councillors in West Edinburgh informing them that three supported bus services currently operated by First Bus will be ceasing from the end of August. These services are the 20 (Ratho to Chesser), the 63 (Queensferry to Balerno) and the 68 (Turnhouse to Gyle).
The contracts were awarded to First Buses in the summer of 2020 for an initial two year period with the option to extend the contract thereafter. First Group have put their decision not to extend these services down to issues with driver recruitment and an associated lack of drivers for these supported services; they stress that it is not due to a lack of finance to support the routes.
These services all operate in West Edinburgh and offer vital transport links in particular to rural West Edinburgh where the negative impacts will likely be hardest felt if these routes were to cease. Further, without these public transport links there will inevitably be an increase in private car usage and the related congestion and pollution impacts for West Edinburgh.
SNP Councillors in West Edinburgh have been in contact with Officers to urgently examine how Council resources such as those within Community Transport can be used to ensure short-term provision continues beyond August. We also thank Officers for their ongoing work to deliver the necessary service contract extensions.
Lastly, we will be bringing a motion to Transport and Environment Committee in August to ensure that the current level of public transport service for West Edinburgh continues and that any transition to a new service provider is as seamless as possible.