Rural East Lothian Bus Users

Rural East Lothian Bus Users, RELBUS, was formed with the prime objective of improving bus services in East Lothian, and promoting the bus as the best way to travel in today’s ecologically concerned environment.

First Group were still operating many of the County’s bus services back then, but on a highly unsatisfactory basis. Quality of vehicles and service reliability were very poor, and it was clear that their tenure of the County’s bus network could not continue. Initially they abandoned Pencaitland and Ormiston, in 2011, these operations being taken over by a Lothian Buses subsidiary who purchased new buses for the route in 2012. Then in 2016, the entire route network in East Lothian was closed down by First Group and their Musselburgh depot along with the routes transferred again to Lothian Buses Ltd, in which both East Lothian Council and West Lothian Council have small shareholdings. A subsidiary, now called East Coast Buses, operates these services.

Since East Coast Buses assumed responsibility for the bulk East Lothian’s buses the quality, frequency, reliability and fare options and information available to passengers have increased markedly to the extent that RELBUS is of the opinion that the County has a very good bus service. This is enhanced by East Lothian Council who, at the time of writing, continue to subsidise services that would otherwise be uneconomic. There are Councils who do not subsidise bus services at all resulting in total loss of routes, and also reduced evening and Sunday services.

RELBUS is now chaired by Harry Barker, now a North Berwick resident having been born in Pencaitland and lived there for many years. Harry is a retired senior Banker and worked with initially The British Linen Bank in Haddington, then Bank of Scotland and latterly with HBOS, its successor. In addition to various voluntary commitments within the County, he was appointed a main board Director (again voluntary) of Bus Users UK. Bus Users UK’s objectives are very similar to those of RELBUS and Harry was appointed to their Board following their commercial relationship with Transport Scotland being strengthened, his appointment to the Board being to represent Scottish interests, but is also their Treasurer, signing off their accounts, and has an interest in the application of The Equality Act (2010) within the bus industry.

RELBUS is affiliated to Bus Users UK ( Amongst other important items, Bus Users is an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider to the bus industry. This means that if something does go wrong, the passenger should contact the bus operator in the first instance, but if the matter is not resolved, then there is the option to have the complaint referred to Bus Users (in East Lothian Bus Users Scotland). Please refer to on how to complain to a bus company. RELBUS is firmly of the view that that because East Lothian now has a very good bus service, the number of complaints should be small and dealt with professionally. RELBUS will become involved in major structural service changes and other issues, and recently campaigned for the reinstatement following COVID of East Coast Buses X5 North Berwick to Edinburgh Express which at times became heated. Wherever possible RELBUS is represented at East Lothian Council’s Bus Forum meetings.

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Harry Barker

Harry Barker is chair of Rural East Lothian Bus Users and the East Lothian Community Rail Partnership. He is a main board Director of Bus Users UK, to represent Scottish interests, but is also their Treasurer. Harry also has an interest in the application of The Equality Act (2010) within the bus industry.