Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The East Lothian Question [2]

In 2012, 113
This is a Lothian Transport bus at Seaton Sands "Camp".
A year or so ago, fbb rode the 26 along the coast to its eastern terminus. Yet another route that was once part of Eastern Scottish territory.
But in 2012, First gave up on route 113. It ran from Edinburgh to Pencaitland (map, lower right).
The route was basically hourly under First's ownership ...
... and, like much of First's East Lothian network, it was all rather tired. So it 2012 it was handed on a plate to Lothian Buses who set up a separate company to run nit.
The start-up publicity was bright and breezy ...
... and the hourly frequency was maintained.
Smart, refurbished single decks from the existing Lothian fleet were used, painted in an attractive green and cream livery. 
But the business grew and an enhanced (but not clock-face) timetable was introduced.
The next uplift was to a 30 minute frequency Monday to Friday followed by a doubling of the Saturday frequency, now also half hourly.
Astoundingly, the service now runs half-hourly on Sundays.

There is no detailed map of the 113 on Traveline Scotland ...
... but the confuser generated green line on the Google Maps extract, a poor excuse of a proper map, shows the 113 as terminating here ...
... at Pencaitland Park aka Easter Pencaitland according to First Bus. There are wheel tracks thast suggest something turns round here! Indeed here is an on-line picture of a Lothian Bus "testing the route" at this surprisingly remote rural spot.
Buses are now double deck!
A service 104 was added to the Lothian East Lothian network ...
... aiming to pick up more of First's business.
The two routes together provide a significantly improved service to the East Lothian communities. (click on the map to enlarge it)
Indeed. so successful has the 113 been that it has won a prestigious award.

Lothian Country Buses' service 113  was given the honour last night (16th June) at the Scottish Transport Awards. The route has seen passenger growth of more than 50 per cent, bucking national trends.
The ceremony, held at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Glasgow, is designed to recognise innovation, excellence and progress across all areas of transport, with the awards regarded as the highest industry accolades in Scotland.
Richard Hall, Lothian Buses’ managing director, said: “It’s great to see that the efforts and achievements of all of the dedicated staff on this service and across the whole business have been recognised with these awards. We’ve seen significant growth in our passenger numbers which is most encouraging for the long-term development and sustainability of public transport in East Lothian.

Lothian Buses also scooped the top award of being Public Transport Operator of the year and was shortlisted for four other prizes.

Doubled frequency, bigger buses, 50% increase in passenger numbers and award winning. What has Lothian Buses got that First Bus hasn't; and shouldn't someone be telling Mr Fearnley the secret?
Because in August this year the last vestiges of the First Bus' East Lothian network are withdrawn in their entirety ...


... but mostly replaced by, guess who, Lothian Buses.


More tomorrow.

 Next East Lothian bus blog : Wednesday 6th July 


  1. Hopefully without giving anything away . . . . Localisation of the decision-making process; Motivation of staff actually doing the route; No need to pacify the stock markets (who don't understand buses anyway, 'cos they don't travel on them).

    Maybe that's why Stagecoach does so well, as they don't have shareholders to deal with; and maybe why Go Ahead seem to be struggling a tad at present.

    I can see a pattern here . . . . .

  2. Stagecoach doesn't have shareholders? What?

    They're a publicly quoted company, just the same as Go-Ahead or FirstGroup.

    1. Oops - I'm a bit out of date! I recall that Souter took the company out of the FTSE, but hadn't cottoned on that it had somewhat returned. Thanks for the clarification.

  3. While it is true that Stagecoach is a public company, it is also true that the Souter family own around 25% of the shares so it can take a longer term view in the way that private companies can.

  4. Being part of the management team at LB, I can tell you the difference is that we actually care. We care that a bus actually leaves the garage on time. We care that each bus is cleaned daily - not just swept, but mopped as well. We care about the presentation of the fleet and lastly, but most importantly, we care about our customers and staff. Look after them and the service will go from strength to strength.

    1. Right On!! Such an approach always pays off in the long run, but it takes management effort to achieve and maintain it; and when the company is continually watching the bottom line, any small saving will be acceptable, whatever the consequences.

    2. "Not just swept but mopped as well". I've never thought about that one before but I've suddenly realised why I prefer to travel on one local operator in my area rather than the other. That's such a small touch I would never have conciously considered it, but boy does it make a difference.

  5. Lothian are not the only ones! Look at North East Norfolk - Sanders and Norfolk Green developing First's rejects; or Wigan, or the Wirral, Plymouth even...
    First can do it when they show they care - see Bristol, Cornwall.