Around 20 youths, both boys and girls, swarmed around the single-decker bus on Great Junction Street and vandalised the vehicle.
Eyewitnesses said that teenagers tore off a rear panel from the Lothian bus while kicking its sides and battering windows as worried passengers looked on.
The attack lasted for up to ten minutes shortly after 9pm on Wednesday, with the bus driver unable to escape.
The youths, aged 14 to 15, repeatedly abused the driver while running around “screaming and bawling”.
Police said there had been a 55 per cent drop in youth calls in the Leith area during the holidays following a crackdown by community officers. But residents said that the youngsters were responsible for an escalating catalogue of verbal abuse, vandalism and antisocial behaviour.
An eyewitness to the bus attack, who lives in the area, said: “I’d been in the Tesco opposite the bus stop when I heard all the screaming and shouting. A gang of about 15 to 20 boys and girls were shouting foul-mouthed abuse.
“The Lothian bus was at the stop and this group started banging on the windows and kicking it. The driver jumped out to tell them to stop. They started screaming and bawling at him. They were like a bunch of feral creatures. It was sheer hysteria.
“The driver tried to get back in his cab but they kept attacking the bus. I think he was unable to drive away because he was worried he’d end up running one of them over.
“They kept kicking the bus until a metal panel fell off. The bus was stuck for five or ten minutes then the police arrived and the group scattered.”
The man, who asked not to be named, added: “This same group have been running amok for the last few weeks. They shout abuse at passersby, vandalise property, throw rubbish about and batter bus shelters.
“They are quite terrifying for people, especially at night, and go around like a small army.”
Leith councillor Gordon Munro said: “Local youth groups and police have been trying to engage with this group of youths. The problem seems to have come to a head with this incident. The behaviour exhibited has been despicable. For this to happen after a helping hand was offered to these kids, who have rejected it, that’s very disappointing.”
As well as high-visibility patrols during the Easter holidays, police organised a football match with 30 local youths. Police said that no youth calls were reported on the night of the game.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Anyone with any information should contact Police Scotland on 101, or the charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
A Lothian Buses spokesman said the firm was looking into the matter.