Midlothian Council agreed last week to launch a bus service to serve local tourist attractions, despite concerns that it won’t work.
The new hop on, hop off bus, which will tie-tin with the Borders Railway, will begin in April. It will serve Midlothian attractions including Rosslyn Chapel, National Mining Museum Scotland and Ryze Trampoline Park.
Speaking at last week’s full council meeting, Councillor Derek Rosie (SNP) said: “I have felt for some time that Midlothian has not cashed in properly. This is an opportunity to link up with the railway to assist out visitor attractions.”
However, Councillor Russel Imrie (Lab), said: “We have a first class bus service, Lothian Buses, which covers most of if not all the tourist attractions. For this council to go to the tune of £69,000, I just don’t think it’s value for money. The £5 charge could be replicated by a Lothian Buses day ticket which is £4, £2 for children. A family ticket is £8. I just believe that in times of hardship there isn’t enough money in local government”
Green councillor Ian Baxter added: “In principle I fully support this. It’s the kind of thing we need. But I have serious issues with the route and the timetable proposed.
“If you wanted to go to Rosslyn Chapel you would get the number 15 bus, not the train and this bus. If you are going to Hillend then you get the number four. Coming from the Borders, then maybe.
“With the right route and the right timetable I believe this would be great. But as it stands I can’t support this.”
Councillor Rosie responded: “People get the bus to Rosslyn Chapel but just go back to Edinburgh. This is not just for the railway but people can get on from Rosslyn Chapel say and go to another attraction.
“I just think it’s something that we have got to try here. I accept that we might have to adjust the route as we go along.
“We have got to try to entice visitors into Midlothian.”
Ricky Moffat, head of commercial operations, revealed that in a meeting with the local attractions there had been discussions about the number of stops and that Hillend could be taken off the route. He added that of the 4.5 million visitors to Edinburgh each year, 20 per cent want a day trip.