OUTRAGED residents are up in arms after vital bus services were cut back – leaving them without direct access to the local hospital outwith peak times.
Fed-up locals in Kirkliston, between Edinburgh and South Queensferry, have submitted a petition to Edinburgh City Council demanding it conducts an urgent review of public service provision in the area. The petition is one of the first to be submitted to the council via a new web facility.
With services by operators EM Horsburgh, First Bus and Stagecoach being curtailed, residents have been left without no direct link to St John’s Hospital, Livingston, in the afternoon and evenings.
This has left many with no choice but to use connecting services offered by different operators, resulting in higher fares and extended journey times.
The village is not served by Lothian Buses as demand is not thought to be high enough, though the company has said it would consider services if the situation changed.
Steve Lee, chairman of Kirkliston Community Council, said: “At a time when the village is expanding rapidly – we’re currently in the middle of a 700-home building project, with another 100 in the pipeline – it seems ludicrous that bus companies are actually cutting services.
“Many of our elderly residents are going to really struggle to get to South Queensferry for shopping and to St John’s Hospital in Livingston. It’s not acceptable to ask them to wait in freezing conditions for perhaps an hour for a connecting bus.”
Paul Thomas, managing director of First Scotland East, confirmed it had ceased operating service 631 due to lack of passengers.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “The number of passengers has been too low to justify the additional resources.”
EM Horsburgh, which has curtailed its number seven service, said the decision had been taken by Edinburgh and West Lothian Council. However, Edinburgh Council said it had not been consulted.
Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council makes a contribution to West Lothian Council’s bus contract costs on the understanding this will provide a service connecting Kirkliston with St John’s Hospital.
“Leaving Kirkliston residents bereft of this vital link is completely unacceptable and we will be writing in the strongest terms to WLC to express our concern about this situation and to seek a resolution. ”
A West Lothian Council spokesperson said: “The old bus contract for the South Queensferry to Livingston service was largely rendered redundant by the introduction of the new First service 651. We realise 651 does not serve St John’s Hospital but frequent connections for St John’s are available from Livingston Centre. Kirkliston residents should contact the City of Edinburgh Council with any concerns.”
Mark Elder, secretary of the community council and one of the Kirkliston residents behind the petition, commented: “West Lothian Council won’t look after us and Edinburgh Council regularly forgets to.”