John McLellan: Why the council is embroiled in tour bus bust-up

Timberbush Tours has complained about 'unfair' competition from Lothian Buses (Picture: Neil Hanna)
Timberbush Tours has complained about 'unfair' competition from Lothian Buses (Picture: Neil Hanna)
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I have sympathy for Timberbush Tours who are complaining that Lothian Buses’ new Lothian Motorcoaches tour business is a public sector operator using its muscle to distort a commercial market.

We in the news business face this on a daily business with the BBC’s online services competing with commercial news organisations such as the Evening News and its owner Johnston Press. Lothian Motorcoaches will have the scale of its publicly owned parent to reduce its overheads and borrowing, making it tough for commercial firms to keep pace on price.

But then, with the council demanding a £7m-a-year ransom to fund the tram extension, is it any wonder it is looking for new revenue streams on top of the open-top tour buses and the success of its new East Coast Buses subsidiary.

Meanwhile, the tax-payer keeps shelling out for the tram borrowing.

READ MORE: Coach firms accuse Lothian Buses of ‘unfair’ rival operation