Lifeline bus service is to be axed

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Queensferry and Kirkliston’s only direct and regular bus link to St John’s Hospital in Livingston is set to be shelved, it has emerged.

First Scotland has now claimed that the route is no longer financially viable due to under-use and suggests that patients change buses to get to appointments .

And that’s just not good enough, according to Councillors Kevin Lang and Louise Young, who have launched an online petition to fight the move.

And such is the strength of feeling that this attracted more than 1000 signatures in 24 hours.

Councillor Lang is so concerned that he has urged transport bosses at City of Edinburgh Council to mount a contingency plan so passengers are not left in the lurch.

He said: “These are rapidly growing communities. It is unacceptable they could be left without a regular and direct bus service to their nearest general hospital.

“That is why we need to get First Scotland to think again.”

Meanwhile, his fellow Liberal Democrat Councillor Young added: “Even those who do not use the 22A service know of others who depend on it to get to and from the hospital. The fact that so many signed the petition in just 24 hours underlines the deep concern in these communities.”

Operations Director for First Scotland East David Phillips confirmed: “As part of our on-going network review, the link from Queensferry to Kirkliston and West Lothian will no longer be available. The link from Kirkliston to Livingston is retained, but to Livingston Centre where customers would be able to change buses.

“The South Queensferry link was introduced originally through a tender with West Lothian Council, and was part funded by City of Edinburgh Council.

“The service does not serve South Queensferry itself, but instead operates from Tesco. Overall, no more than one passenger, per journey, used this service from Tesco over the past year.

“ As such this is no longer commercially viable to run this service and is why the proposed network changes no longer cover this link.

“For Kirkliston, passengers will still be able to use the proposed 600 service to Livingston Centre and then transfer onto any of the eight journeys per hour that pass along Alderstone Road, or the eight journeys per hour, to hospital grounds. It is only the direct link that has been removed.”

A spokesperson for City of Edinburgh council said that it had been in contact with the operator and was investigating alternative options.