The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year opened an investigation into East Coast Buses running the Dunbar-Edinburgh, and North Berwick-Edinburgh services, recently abandoned by First Group. The argument was that, as a subsidiary of Lothian Buses, it was not providing proper competition on the Musselburgh end of the routes. RELBUS is delighted to see that a sensible decision has been made on this matter as, on 23rd January, ahead of the 9th February deadline, the Competition and Markets Authority released the following statement:
“The CMA investigated and cleared the completed acquisition by East Coast Buses Limited of the east coast operations of First Scotland East Limited.”
RELBUS gave evidence twice to this investigation – at first when the investigation was initially announced in September 2016, and last month, at their request to comment upon what had actually happened since East Coast Buses had commenced operations.
Harry Barker, chair of RELBUS said, “This of course is excellent news and a common sense decision.”
RELBUS has provided further evidence of the improvements to the local bus service as a result of East Coast Buses taking over from First at the end of the summer. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) had been concerned about lack of competition on part of the route, but RELBUS argues that this is far from being the case with no less than four fully independent and thriving bus operators in the area, and the quality and frequency of services into Edinburgh and across the county continues to improve.
You can read our response (written by RELBUS chair Harry Barker) here.
The RELBUS AGM for 2016 will be held on Wednesday 31st August at 7pm in the buffet room of Haddington Town House. There will be an assessment of the new bus services and a discussion on the future direction of RELBUS including the election of a new chair. Our annual report is now available to download here.
All welcome. Email email@example.com to find out more.
Following the announcement of a takeover of First Bus in East Lothian by new company East Coast Buses, (a subsidiary of Lothian Buses), Councillor Michael Veitch, Transport convenor for East Lothian Council, said:
“This should not only secure the future of the Dunbar and North Berwick corridors currently served by First, but will go further in creating an entirely new operation dedicated to serving our county. An integral part of this is the planned retention of the North Berwick and Musselburgh depots and their staff which is hugely welcome. This is a hugely significant development for East Lothian and secures vastly improved public transport provision for local people in the future.”
East Coast Buses Ltd will introduce the following services from 14 Aug 2016:
•107 – A new 60 minute timetable introduced 7 days a week (30 minute Mon-Fri peak). Buses run West End, Meadowbank, The Jewel, A1, Haddington and East Linton to Dunbar. This part-replaces First Service X6/106.
•124/X24 – A new 30 minute timetable introduced Monday to Saturday and 60 minute on Sundays. Buses run Semple Street, Meadowbank, Portobello, Musselburgh, Prestonpans, Longniddry, Aberlady, Gullane and Dirleton to North Berwick. Three morning and afternoon buses will run Limited Stop as X24. This part-replaces First Bus 124/X24.
•We will continue with the following commercial and school services:
•124 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Longniddry and Preston Lodge HS.
•125 – 2x morning and 2x afternoon journeys between Musselburgh and North Berwick HS.
•126 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Aberlady and North Berwick HS.
•127 – 1x morning and 1x afternoon journey between Longniddry and North Berwick HS.
A comprehensive marketing and communications plan will be put in place to prepare the new services for operation, including roadshows within the local communities. This work will be done in close co-operation with East Lothian Council.”
Having heard reassurances in the last few weeks that no one will be left high and dry when First’s buses are withdrawn from East Lothian in August, RELBUS is seeking your thoughts on how any new service can be an improvement over First’s.
We saw how other operators came to the rescue when First withdrew many services in 2012 and we have every confidence that this will happen again. The routes to North Berwick and Dunbar are key trunk services that are surely an attractive commercial proposition if organised efficiently and in line with passenger requirements. In this respect we would ask those who use the services now, or who might be tempted to do so in the future, to let us at RELBUS know if there are changes they would like to see any new operators introduce. We will pass this on once we know who might be operating the services. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.