Ormiston & Pencaitland bus meeting fills hall to capacity

The public meeting to allow bus users of rural East Lothian to voice their concerns to Council leaders filled Trevelyan Hall to capacity

The public meeting to allow bus users of rural East Lothian to voice their concerns to Council leaders filled Trevelyan Hall to capacity, with many standing at the entrance to listen in.

A full house at Trevelyan Hall

In attendance were Council leader Paul McLennan (SNP), Councillor Donald Grant (Labour) and both the MSP Iain Gray and MP Fiona O’Donnell. There were also a number of other sitting and prospective councillors hoping to be elected and re-elected in a few days time.

Whilst there was some inevitable party political banter Ormiston community council leader Jim Blane kept a lid on proceedings, focussing on permitting members of the public to air their concerns.

Some of the key points to emerge were:

  • Lothian buses is to take over the moment First withdraws its services to Ormiston & Pencaitland
  • Fares will follow the model already applied by Lothian across the whole of its existing network. This should mean they are below First’s fares.
  • Paul McLennan indicated a willingness to see more active involvement from actual bus users, Rural East Lothian Bus Users (RELBUS) and Community Councils on ELC’s decision-making on buses.

Less clear was the fate of other uncommercial services such as the Gifford Circle (now the 123) and services for Elphinstone, Glenkinchie and New Winton. In the latter case Councillor Jim Gillies claimed he had received concerns from 23 residents when their bus service stopped around a year ago, and still have no means of getting to other parts of the county.

Many expressed relief that a rural transport crisis has been avoided and welcomed the news that Lothian will take up when First withdraws. However, just as many expressed doubts about whether wider issues surrounding non-commercial connections to and between rural parts of East Lothian, would be pursued or dropped once a new Council is elected.

Q. Would you like to join in and be consulted on ELC decisions affecting rural bus service provision?

If yes, then send your email and contact details to website@pencaitland.org.

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Author: pencaitland

Pencaitland Community Council exists to represent the views of local residents about local issues that matter to them. This involves close liaison with other groups in the community and helps to develop a more coherent and dynamic village environment.

378 thoughts on “Ormiston & Pencaitland bus meeting fills hall to capacity”

  1. Thanks Ralph.
    It was mentioned more than once by the councillor that an announcement would be made the day after the meeting and that LRT would be providing the same if not a better service.
    Hard to believe anything they say now and it only causes doubt and concern that things may change and we are back to square one.
    Hopefully this will be resolved soon as the clock is ticking.

  2. Hi Jane

    To my knowledge the Community Council has still to get any more details on the timetables that will apply when Lothian takes over the routes from First.

    Obviously we’re keen to establish frequency of service on the Pencaitland/Ormiston legs as well as the separate bus planned to reconnect New Winton.

    But there’s a wider concern over what happens with inter-village bus connections and links from our villages to the towns of Haddington and Tranent and potentially Wallyford (for train connections).

    I suspect there’s now a hiatus as, now that we have a new administration with Labour and the Conservatives, it’s going to take time for them to establish the new pecking order.

    As soon as we know it will be shared on this website/Facebook etc.



  3. A comment post the Public Bus meeting by a Pencaitland resident:

    I was pleased to hear that Lothian will be taking over the bus route and a lot of my previous concerns have been dealt with. I thought it was a good meeting and some great ideas came out from the meeting. There were a couple of things that I was concerned with though:-

    As I mentioned I use the bus with my toddler and his buggy. There aren’t really any other mums from Pencaitland that do that but there are a few from Ormiston. My concern is really about getting on the bus with a buggy if there is another buggy already on. I’ve read various articles in the paper about mums being refused on etc so it might be useful to get clarification from Lothian as to what their rules are (eg can a buggy go in wheelchair space but then be vacated if need be). Normally getting the First bus from town was fine as mums going to Tranent etc avoided these are the buses weren’t always accessible. I mainly found there was enough room to store a folded buggy as I would most often be the only one with a buggy. I just don’t want myself or any mums going Ormiston being stranded for another hour really.

    Someone mentioned about the buses not needing to be a double decker bus so perhaps use smaller ones (like prentice). I feel that is not helpful again for mums with buggies or wheelchair users as these would have steps and also no room to store buggies or shopping trolleys etc. A single decker would be ok I would think.

    Another idea mentioned was to use a car to pick people up but again I feel having a child and doing this is not a good idea as there would not been an appropriate car seat.
    I’m a bit worried about Lothian picking up the New Winton route as to how that would affect my journey. I use the bus to get to the doctor in Ormiston and thought if the Pencaitland bus started to go a different route would I need to get 2 buses to get to Ormiston (which is a nightmare with an hourly service and a toddler)

    It was mentioned at the meeting about supplying transport where there was the demand. Sometimes I would be the only one on the bus going back to Pencaitland so the demand isn’t always there but I need to get back safely sometimes with my son as well. Not sure what to do about this perhaps trying to get numbers of users up in village would help increase demand.

    Also Pencaitland is the last stop so it makes sense that when a bus is about to terminate (and it’s not uptown or somewhere like Ocean Terminal) there is only going to be a few people on it as it’s not going anywhere else after.

    I feel we just need a reliable bus service that people are using and that we are working with the council and the bus company so that it’s in all our interests to keep it running.

  4. Hi Jane

    I am led to believe that the new tenders have to go through a formal process of selection and approval by the Council before they can be rubber stamped. So Strictly speaking I’m told that it is not official until that process is completed. I’m under the impression that’s happening right now and may be completed tomorrow. I think the media will have far more details than the sketchy information I have to offer, so look out for more in the Courier and News tomorrow.



  5. Like Ali, I have looked several times on the council website, LRTs website and even the Scotsman website for the announcement we were told was coming today. Where is it, surely they are too busy with an election tomorrow to make an announcement!

  6. Additional comments from members of the public at last night’s meeting:


    “Double Decker buses only needed in Pencaitland early morning & evening to get people to work. Single Decker buses are enough. Bring back Prentice.”


    “Would hope that the express service (x13 at present) is being returned between Pencaitland & Ormiston.”

    D. Allen

    “123 Service needs the same timetable as Don Prentice bus had and the same route.”

  7. This morning we also got word that both Elphinstone and New Winton will see bus routes returning.

    Elphinstone’s 110 service has been tendered ‘as is’ and will connect to Tranent but from a different provider (not Lothian buses).

    New Winton will form part of the Lothian bus network and be on the same global fares applied to the rest of the Lothian network.

    No timetable details for New Winton or Elphinstone at this time.


    Pencaitland Community COuncil

  8. I am sure Paul Mclennan said there would be an announcement on the detail today, nothing on LRT or Council Wesbiste/Twiter at the moment.

    Was interested if the new LRT 44 service would route via Musselburgh and provide commuter services (current X13) as First do.

    Did I hear him incorrectly when he said today?

  9. I am a wheelchair-user so I use LRT buses more often because EVERY bus is wheelchair-accessible, not just “maybe one an hour, if I’m lucky” with First Bus. I object to sitting in my electric wheelchair in the middle of Tranent town centre waiting for a 44C which may or may not be accessible when it arrives. Give me LRT any day! Having said that, my needs are specific, but First Bus MUST stop putting all the old or inaccessible buses on the EL routes if they are to survive at all. If an inaccessible First bus does arrive I cannot get either to ASDA or to Haddington! The ones which have “so-called wheelchair lifts” are totally inadequate – the steps and doorway are too narrow. One wheelchair passenger was stuck recently when the hoist stopped in “mid-flight” – that is unacceptable.

    Ormiston & Pencaitland have much worse difficulties with regular buses from my memory of the 123 Gifford Circle. I would like to see the restoration of a bus to Elphinstone up the Elphinstone Road in Tranent – this would stop nearer to my home than the present LRT 44 which is half a mile to the terminus for me.

    I do think that bus services need to be re-regulated as I believe it would help in situations like these.

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