Visit East Lothian…by Public Transport!

I love East Lothian but there are parts of the county I haven’t visited because I don’t have a car and public transport can be patchy.

Recently, I was in Waverley station and noticed a Visit East Lothian banner prominently displayed at Platform 4 and I found myself pondering how many visitors to Edinburgh take the train east.

Visit East Lothian has recently produced a TV advert showcasing the county’s attractions – but how easy are they to get to on bus or train?

First to appear in the STV advert is Foxlake Adventures which looks brilliant fun but I haven’t been as I’ve always presumed it would be difficult for me to get to.  The Foxlake website has detailed instructions for reaching the award-winning activity centre by road but no mention of public transport.  So, imagining I’m a car-less visitor to Edinburgh, how do I get there?

The quickest way is to get a train to Dunbar (20 mins), walk to the bus stop, get an Eve’s Coaches 120 bus (10mins) ask the driver to let you off opposite Tynefield and walk the remaining 6 minutes.  Alternatively, you can get the Perryman’s 253 service all the way from Edinburgh and as before, getting off at Tynefield and walking.  VERDICT: Let the train take the strain.

Next up is the John Gray Centre, Haddington, home to a library, museum and the Council archives.  The website has a helpful How to find us page which lists ‘by car’ first, then public transport and finally, cycling.

For the quickest journey, take the Perryman’s 253 (39 minutes).  Alternatively you could take the Lothian Country Bus 104 (51 minutes).  FirstBus currently run both the X8 and X6 services but are scheduled to cease all East Lothian operations in August.  VERDICT: Take the bus

The National Museum of Flight is a great place to visit and their website clearly details the many ways to reach East Fortune (bus, train, bicycle, car – in that order!).

A journey combining train and bus usually takes just over an hour but if you travel on a Saturday when trains are more frequent, you might be lucky with the timings and get there in as little as 44 minutes.  Take a train to Drem and get an Eve’s 121.   If you prefer two wheels, take a look at Cycling Scot’s blog on how to reach the museum by bike.  VERDICT: Easy Train/Bus (or Bike) combo

A trip to the Scottish Seabird Centre is very easy on public transport and their website encourages you to get there by walking, cycling, train, bus, car – in that order (well done Seabird Centre).

Take the train to North Berwick.  Buses are available (until FirstBus withdraws) but the train is quicker and more pleasant.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video also features Dirleton Castle which is owned by Historic Environment Scotland.  The website gives details of grid reference and has links to travel planners but nothing specifically to encourage people to use public transport.  The withdrawal of the Firstbus X24 will make it problematic reaching Dirleton (and other coastal towns not served by a train).  Until another bus operator takes over the route, your options are walk the 2 miles from North Berwick train station. VERDICT: Wait and see

The last attraction to star in the video is Dunbar Leisure Pool – a family favourite and free swims for children during the summer holidays.  The website has a small map but there are no directions how to reach the pool.  Fortunately, Traveline Scotland suggests taking train to Dunbar and walking the short journey from the station to the pool.  VERDICT: Take the train!

The video ends with the words “East Lothian Attractions – Explore, Play, Stay, Amazing – No Ordinary Day

The ‘Getting Here’ section of the Visit East Lothian website lists the ways of reaching the county as: Road, Rail, Bus, Air & Sea.  Let’s hope that information providers explore the possibility that visitors might want to use sustainable methods of travel to ‘Edinburgh’s playground’ – now that would be amazing.

Further Information:

I’ve only looked at whether a journey was feasible (not taking into account practicalities such as travelling with a buggy) and I haven’t made price comparisons.  You should bear in mind that FirstBus will cease all East Lothian operations in August.

Eve’s Coaches

Lothian Country Buses

Perryman’s

Scotrail – Scotrail have a KidsGoFree ticket which also offers free entry to some attractions 

TravelineScotland

Cycling Scot

 

First to end East Lothian bus service

Local bus operator First Scotland East today [May 24] confirmed it is proposing to cease bus operations in East Lothian from 14 August 2016 and close its depots in North Berwick and Musselburgh.

First Scotland East’s operations in these areas have not been viable for a number of years, despite working hard to turn the business around and attract sufficient customers in what has become an increasingly competitive market.

However, the company had also been compelled to maintain the substantial part of its network through undertakings agreed some 14 years ago following an investigation by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

First Scotland East was recently released from these undertakings by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and, in order to put the business on a sound footing for the future, it has now decided, following a review, to propose this action and allow the company to focus resources in areas where customer demand and satisfaction is growing.

Paul McGowan, Managing Director of First Scotland East, said: “I’m disappointed that we’re proposing to withdraw from Musselburgh and North Berwick.  We will today engage with the local authority on the future of bus services.  However, given there are other bus operators that operate in and around the area, I’m confident if we decide to go ahead with these proposals the majority of our customers won’t be left without a service.”

The company also confirmed it has started the collective consultation process with Trade Unions on the proposed closure of Musselburgh and North Berwick bus depots with redundancies expected among the workforce based across both locations and in supporting roles, if the proposal is implemented. A total of 88 positions are now classed as “at risk”.

Paul McGowan said: “I am sorry that we are having to discuss the proposal to discontinue services and consider the possibility of redundancies”.

“I must stress our proposals do not, in any way, reflect the commitment and quality of our employees in the area.  I cannot speak highly enough of their professionalism and dedication.  We will be doing everything we can to assist those affected.”

He added: “Unfortunately, we’ve incurred losses in East Lothian for years.  Should the proposal be implemented this will allow us to concentrate our investment in West Lothian, the Borders and the Central Belt, improving our services for customers and growing our operations in those areas, helping protect jobs in the long term.”

Prior to today’s announcement, First Scotland East began its official consultation process with affected colleagues.  This will include offering opportunities in other areas.  The company also provided notice to the Traffic Commissioner and the Local Authority of its intention to cease running affected commercial services after the required statutory period of 70 days and affected tendered services after 90 days.

The East Lothian operations affected account for around a fifth of the First Scotland East operation.

Changes to Lothian Bus services affecting East Lothian

From Sunday 29th March, Lothian Buses will be making changes to most bus services. These changes will result in improvements to timetables, especially in the evenings and at weekends.  The changes to routes through East Lothian are summarised below:

Service 15   Revised route and timetable
A revised route resulting in a quicker, more direct service from Penicuik to the south-side of Edinburgh and the City Centre. Buses will run as per the current route as far as Gowkley Moss Roundabout then direct to Penicuik, omitting Bilston, Roslin and Auchendinny.  From John Street, buses will run via Carlops Road to Deanburn, no longer serving Penicuik Town Centre.  Later evening buses will be introduced between the City and Penicuik, in both directions.
Sunday service 15A is withdrawn.

Service 26   Revised timetable and route change
Altered route at Tranent with buses extending from the High Street to Windygoul to part replace service 44. Haddington Road will continue to be served by service 104.

Service 44/44A   Revised route and timetable
The service will no longer serve Tranent (Windygoul). All buses will run to Wallyford with some Monday to Saturday peak time journeys continuing to serve Whitecraig.
Tranent will continue to be served by the 26, X44, 104 and 113.

Service X44 (Tranent)   Revised timetable and stopping places
An additional morning and afternoon journey will operate. Buses will now operate Limited Stop on Milton Road, stopping at Brustane and Paisley Drive only.

Service 113   More buses
Monday to Saturday frequency increased to every 30 minutes providing Tranent with more direct journeys following the withdrawal of service 44 from the town.

Service N30   Revised route and timetable
Leith Street (Omni) no longer served.
In Stoneybank and Musselburgh the route is altered to run as a one-way loop. Stoneybank Cresent, Newbigging and the High Street will no longer be served. From Stoneybank, buses will run via Mall Avenue, Bridge Street and will return via North High Street and Newhailes Road to Stoneybank.

For more information, you can download the following leaflets;