Campaigners celebrate as village bus route restored

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Campaigners are celebrating after the reinstatement of a bus service linking small villages in East Lothian and Midlothian with the Royal Infirmary.

More than 1600 people signed a petition protesting against the cancellation of services 308 and 408 which provided a vital lifeline for villages such as Old Craighall and Millerhill.

Despite the protest, they were axed in April, but now villagers are to welcome a new service provided by First Bus.

The 228 will operate almost hourly six days a week between Musselburgh, Old Craighall, Millerhill, Newton Village, Hilltown and the ERI.

Newton Village resident Elizabeth Bryce, who led the campaign, said: "I feel quite chuffed, but if people don't use it, we'll lose it - they've said it'll be up for tender again in October.

"We'll be really pleased to have it back. My husband was speaking to someone this morning who said it took them three hours to get to the hospital."

Services 308 and 408 were operated by Munros of Jedburgh and subsidised by East Lothian and Midlothian councils. The decision to axe them was criticised for leaving elderly people isolated.

It left Old Craighall and Millerhill without any bus services, while Newton Village had no direct link to the ERI, and all three lost their direct link with nearby Musselburgh. Levenhall was left with a drastically reduced service to the hospital.

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said after Munros decided to no longer operate the route, the council could not commit money because it was in the middle of negotiations on subsidies for other bus contracts. But once the negotiations were completed, the council allocated extra funding, which is supporting the new service.

Mrs Bryce, a retired cleaner, said: "The last bus leaving Musselburgh used to be 6.30pm and now it's five o'clock, so it doesn't cover evening visiting hours, but it's better than nothing."

A spokeswoman for First Bus said: "First will be operating service 228 on behalf of East Lothian Council, commencing on Monday, May 30."

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