Local public transport users are being treated like poor relations by City of Edinburgh council despite promises to the contrary.
And that’s simply because council leader Adam McVey and transport convener Lesley Macinnes cannot see past the city centre – and extending the trams to Leith.
That is the view of Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Lang – who claims that Scottish Nationalist and Labour councillors running the council are failing to deliver on a key coalition pledge to improve public transport in the rural west of the city.
Councillor Lang’s constituents have seen no fewer than three key service cuts.
These emerged, he said, after First Bus announced new changes to its services which will halve the frequency of Kirkliston’s only direct bus service into Edinburgh.
This will mean city centre services will reduce down to half hourly or hourly for most of the day.
This latest change follows the recent loss of Queensferry and Kirkliston’s only direct bus link with St John’s Hospital.
More than 2,000 people signed a petition in protest against this change, for fear of the impact on patients, staff and hospital visitors – but this was ignored.
First Bus also rerouted other services this month so they no longer pass through the village of Newbridge.
Meanwhile, the Council’s owned bus company Lothian Buses has launched a series of new bus services in West Lothian serving Livingston, Bathgate and Whitburn.
Councillor Lang, who represents Queensferry, Kirkliston and Newbridge, said: “SNP and Labour councillors made a specific promise to improve public transport in rural west Edinburgh.
“Yet one year on, we have seen cuts to bus services in much of rural west Edinburgh.
“Worse still, there appears no clear plan from the coalition administration to address this situation.
“Adam McVey and Lesley Macinnes need to realise that improving public transport cannot just be about extending the tram to Leith.
“It is about better serving all the city’s communities with improved public transport, especially those in more rural areas who are facing cuts to these vital bus services.
However Councillor Macinnes said: “There is always work to do to make sure our West Edinburgh communities are properly served by public transport and this administration is absolutely committed to working with transport providers and our colleagues in West Lothian to improve the current situation.
“In broader terms, prioritising public transport in the area is a key aim and our newly signed City Region Deal included £36m to support implementation of the West Edinburgh Transport Appraisal, which includes improvements to public transport infrastructure.”
Councillor Macinnes also stressed that the council had no control over commercial decisions of First buses but would continue to provide subsidies for rural areas .
She also termed Councillor Lang’s version of the extent of the bus cuts in question as “slightly elastic and added: “There is still a direct link to St John’s Hospital from Queensferry and Kirkliston in the form of the EM Horsburgh service 7, although admittedly this is only a peak-time only service.
“Meanwhile, far from reducing its Kirkliston service to ‘half hourly or hourly for most of the day’, First has maintained a 15 minute frequency during peak periods, and 30 minutes between the peaks.
“And while there is no denying 2,000 people may have signed the petition about the loss of Service 22 in Queensferry, the inescapable reality is that the latest patronage levels provided by First indicate only 12 users across ten daily journeys.”