VILLAGERS angered by bus service cuts are celebrating after using a new petitions system to force a U-turn.
Residents in Kirkliston say a series of cutbacks by bus firms had left them without vital direct links to key destinations including St John’s Hospital in Livingston.
After collecting almost 800 signatures online, they are set to see connections restored, bus routes extended and timetables improved.
The villagers submitted the first petition under the city council’s new online system.
Now proposals have been drawn up for a new subsidy package to ensure the village gets a better bus service.
The result vindicates the ground-breaking campaign started by community council chairman Steve Lee and his colleagues last December.
Community council secretary Mark Elder said campaigners were delighted with the way the petition system had worked.
He said: “The ability to raise issues directly impacting a community and to have that voice heard is a huge step forward for local democracy.
“Our success in getting the petition through the committee stage and the cross-party support it received were warmly welcomed by a village community which regularly feels forgotten about.”
The community council conducted a survey to find out how people felt about bus services.
Mr Elder said: “With 450 responses, representing over ten per cent of the population, the survey clearly set out the deficit felt by residents – namely that all Edinburgh council taxpayers should have access to public transport providing direct routes or integrated options to hospitals, educational establishments, places of work and leisure destinations.
“Kirkliston does not have all these services at present, and it is one of the very few areas of the city to suffer this social injustice.”
Bus firms including EM Horsburgh, First and Stagecoach have all curtailed their services. Lothian Buses does not cover the village.
The city council will now hold discussions with West Lothian Council on re-establishing the direct link with St John’s Hospital and look at the potential for improving the Sunday service between Kirkliston and Queensferry.
Transport committee convener Lesley Hinds said the council hoped to establish a fast-track way of putting bus services out to tender, and once the bids came back the community would be consulted again.
She said: “This was the first petition under the new system and it shows it works. I’ve been out to Kirkliston three times about this, we’ve had a public meeting, the community has put its case very strongly and we’re listening.
“This is the first success for the petitions committee, but we have to deliver it as well.”