Transport Minister Keith Brown today met East Lothian Council leader Paul McLennan and First Group’s Neil Barker to discuss changes to bus services in the area. The Minister offered his support to East Lothian and Midlothian councils in finding a way forward for areas affected by First Bus’s decision to withdraw some services across the region.
With First Bus confirming that their disappointing decision comes after years of poor trading and rising fuel prices, the Minister met with Cllr McLennan to discuss options for the future. Transport Scotland will be made available to assist East Lothian and Midlothian in finding solutions and the Minister will also discuss service provision with First and Lothian buses.
Following the meeting with the Minister First Bus will also provide information to the council on the services being withdrawn to help them develop alternative plans.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
I was pleased to have an early meeting with East Lothian and with First Bus to discuss options for future provision of bus services where, due to a combination of poor trading and rising fuel costs, First Bus have now withdrawn services.
I will be making Transport Scotland available to work together with East Lothian and Midlothian councils on the way forward and to offer advice on East Lothian’s proposals to take on some of the services themselves.
Following the meeting First Bus have agreed to make information available to the councils to help them plan alternatives and to minimising redundancies as well as to working with the Scottish Government’s PACE support team to help those staff who are affected.
I hope to meet shortly with Midlothian Council and Lothian Buses to discuss what other options may be available.
Cllr McLennan, Leader of East Lothian council welcomed the early meeting and the support from Transport Scotland.
I appreciated the opportunity to raise our concerns over First’s decision to withdraw from a number of services in East Lothian due to a combination of poor trading conditions and rising fuel costs.
I am hopeful we can maintain the services and welcome the offer of support and advice from the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland, in particular on the potential of the council establishing a company to provide transport on non-commercial routes.
We will work with Midlothian Council, the Scottish Government, First Bus, Lothian Buses and any other interested parties in finding a solution that serves the needs of local commuters and protects as many local jobs as possible.