MM: Public transport woes.

IF you've ever been to my home city of Edinburgh in the last decade you'll know that the place positively runs off its public transport system. The local operator, Lothian Buses, is a publicly owned...

MM: Public transport woes.
Photo by Артём Мякинник / Unsplash

IF you've ever been to my home city of Edinburgh in the last decade you'll know that the place positively runs off its public transport system. The local operator, Lothian Buses, is a publicly owned (by the City of Edinburgh Council) corporation which, until recently, had a reputation as one of the best-value, most reliable and efficient bus services in the entire UK, if not Europe.

What happened to it?

Lesley MacInnes, transport convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said this of the consolidation of all ALEOs (arms length external organisations) operating public transport in Edinburgh under Lothian:

"Of course, we know how important the Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams brands are to the people of Edinburgh, demonstrated by their consistently high customer satisfaction ratings, and we’ve no plans to change that. Any restructuring behind-the-scenes will only lead to a better experience when using the services we all know and love.

Since she has said these words, the service has deteriorated to the point of barely-usable. From what I have gathered from drivers and LB staff I have spoken to outside of the workplace, the issue seems to be twofold: staffing and traffic.

This, by the way, being the very same councillor who introduced the controversial Spaces for People scheme in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was controversial as it narrowed already-congested roads and took the road edge some way back from the kerb; there were countless accessibility complaints from disabled people who were now effectively unable to use vehicles!

Staffing-wise, the lack of drivers led to a regular disappearance of services. I've been stuck in the West End twice waiting for a bus home that never showed, and then when it did show, the driver's attention seemed to be elsewhere. Lothian promised to alleviate staffing pressures by reworking the timetables, making services previously every 20 minutes now every 30. Which seemed to work initially, but disappearing services have begun to return, and 15 minute late services are nothing out of the ordinary.

When you look at the wider patterns in the UK labour market it paints a grim picture, though. This isn't just Lothian suffering for people. Supply chains are slowing to a crawl, shelves are sitting empty, people just aren't getting out there. People are working harder than ever in worse conditions than ever and just burning right out. Who can blame them?

Welcome to post-Brexit sunny uplands, I guess. C


Moaning Mondays: Everyone's Monday sucks, so I'm going to make it suck just a little bit more.

Subscribe to Common Mode Noise 3.0

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.
jamie@example.com
Subscribe