Lothian Buses has apologised for leaving two young girls to walk home in the dark after a driver refused to believe their ages and put them off the bus.
Now the girls’ angry grandfather – Councillor Joe Wallace (SNP), Midlothian’s provost – has stepped into the row over the situation.
The sisters, aged 15 and four, were challenged by the bus driver, who did not believe the ages they said they were.
This meant the younger one could not travel for free and the teenager was not allowed to pay the child fare.
And when he put them off the bus, he did not refund the half fare the teenager had already placed in the ticket box, leaving them without enough money to try another bus and no option but to walk more than three miles.
In an email to the bus company, a furious Cllr Wallace said: “As you may have gathered I am very angry about this and expect this to be dealt with promptly.”
Lothian Buses told him that they would give his four-year-old granddaughter a bus pass to prove her age and provide a month’s free bus pass to his 15-year-old granddaughter.
Cllr Wallace told the Advertiser of his disbelief at the refusal to let them on the bus from Crew Toll to Leith.
He said: “The bus driver was very cheeky to them and refused to believe their ages.
“I simply can’t believe that he would leave two young girls out in the cold and dark like that.
“My older grandchild put her money in the ticket box and asked for a half single fare.
“The driver rudely told her she should pay a full fare and that he expected her to pay for her sister.
“She said that the same driver had challenged her a few weeks prior to this but on that occasion she was able to produce ID.
“The driver said to her that he remembered her from a previous time and that he didn’t believe her.
“He demanded that she pay a full fare and that she also pay for the four year old because he thought she was older.
“He then put them off the bus, much to the embarrassment of my granddaughter, who doesn’t like confrontation, and he didn’t refund her fare that she had put in the box.
“As she had no money on her she had to set off on foot, in the dark and on a cold night, with a four year old child in tow.
“Anything could have happened to them as they walked the 3.2 miles they had to walk home, taking them two hours.
“I find it incredible that the driver was willing to put the girls in peril simply because they couldn’t prove their age.
“Surely even if he thought they might be slightly older than what they are, does it really justify making them walk home in the cold and dark?”