Anger at bus service cuts

Councillor Derek Milligan will be taking his concerns to Lothian Buses
Councillor Derek Milligan will be taking his concerns to Lothian Buses

Locals have voiced their anger at Lothian Buses’ plans to reduce the frequency of the 49 service to Midlothian from October 4.

As part of a number of service changes across the region, the 49 will serve Dalkeith, Bonnyrigg and Rosewell on a half hourly basis.

The service coming from Edinburgh will operate every 15 minutes to the Sheriffhall Park and Ride but only two buses an hour will travel into Midlothian.

Seeking answers Bonnyrigg councillor Derek Milligan (Lab) said he spoke to Lothian Buses’ head of operations, who explained the reduction was due to falling passenger numbers.

“It doesn’t add up,” said councillor Milligan. “I have been meeting with the bus company on a regular basis and discussions have all been around numbers going up to such an extent it hasn’t been two years that they had to put on a double decker bus service.”

Councillor Milligan added he would be writing to Lothian Buses in the “strongest terms”.

He said the reduction in the bus service would affect residents in Bonnyrigg and those in Poltonhall and Rosewell would be “extremely hacked off”.

Councillor Milligan continued: “The company has just announced record passenger numbers and record profits. Here we have the second biggest town with its main bus service cut in half.”

However, he added: “I have been told it is a done deal and it is not for debate.”

Local residents took to social media to voice their concerns and an online petition has almost 500 signatures.

Douglas Ramsay said: “The 49 is the only bus I use, every Monday to Friday to Danderhall. This will have a huge impact on myself and many colleagues at SQA.

“Aside from that if Lothian buses are cutting my options in half will they be refunding half of my £612 per year pass?....no didn’t think so!”

Dionne Urban added: “The 49 bus is always a busy bus! This is really not a good idea!”

Sarah Boyd, Head of Bus Operations at Lothian Buses, said: “In recent years, we have increased the frequency of the 49 to keep pace with growing passenger demand between the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Portobello.

“We had hoped that over time, the higher frequency would generate additional passengers in Midlothian, however the number of passengers using the service in the area still remains significantly lower than the number needed to sustain the current level of daytime frequency.”