Our Edinburgh Correspondent returns with an Edinburgh update, suggesting there will be further changes. Omnibuses welcomes contributions
Back in March, this correspondent reported on the competition between First and Lothian in the Edinburgh area of Scotland; only having to rush out an update a few days later when First announced it was closing one-and-a-half garages. This has now happened, so now seems a good point to reflect on how things turned out.
The Dalkeith garage has now closed. Some town services are now being provided by Lothian Buses, as well as the route from Penicuik to Musselburgh. It will be interesting to see how these services develop, to see whether Lothian’s apparent magic touch will turn these around.
Lothian rejigged its 3 and 33 routes to Edinburgh to compensate for the loss of the first trunk route 86. Interestingly, although there were some extensions to the 33, the 3 was cut back and there were no frequency increases, though the 33 does go up to every 10 minutes at peak times but split over two branches. Whenever I saw an old First 86 at peak time, it did have a reasonable load (though not standing room only) so Lothian hopefully has their loading calculations right here.
So is the First operation in East Scotland now safe? Time will tell. Rumours abound that the remaining staff at Musselburgh and North Berwick depots have been put on 90-day notice. Certainly the operations left are not where First likes to play, being predominately rural. And a road trip that passed near Stirling saw some First vehicles even older than we had seen in Edinburgh of late (N reg). Again, rumours of another major group buying First out in this West area… but why they might do that is not immediately obvious.
I rather fear that the First East Scotland saga is not over yet.