West Lothian Council will spend almost £35,000 to keep buses running over the festive period.
The council has historically provided an additional level of local bus provision on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and January 1 and 2 as commercial services generally do not operate on these dates.
Regular subsidised services are also not contracted to operate on the festive dates – with the exception of the 40/X40, which operates a special service between St John’s and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
In a report to the Development and Transport Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel, Nicola Gill, the interim public transport manager, said: “Discussions have taken place with commercial bus operators to ascertain what, if any, commercial services will be provided on the four festive dates.
“First Bus have indicated that they will not be operating on any of the festive dates and Lothian Country have confirmed that they are planning to operate a limited commercial service on December 26.
“This service level is expected to be lower than a Sunday, however sufficient to ensure people can access St John’s Hospital and Livingston Centre for the main part of the day.
“On Sunday, January 2, at this stage, they plan on operating a normal Sunday service.”
Six services, operated by First Bus and Lothian Country, will cover most of the county with a two-hourly service paid for by the council.
An hourly service would have exceeded the £44,000 budget assigned to cover festive services.
Festive bus services
- First Bus X25, serving Blackridge – Livingston via Armadale, Bathville, Bathgate, Deans North, Ladywell East and Alderstone Road.
- First Bus 26 serving Fauldhouse – Deans via Bents, Stoneyburn, Loganlea, West Calder, Polbeth, Livingston Centre, Howden, Ladywell and Knightsridge.
- First Bus X38 serving Linlithgow – Edinburgh via Winchburgh.
The services will operate on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with the X38 service also running on Boxing Day and January 2.
- Lothian Country X27, serving Whitburn – Edinburgh via Blackburn, Seafield, Eliburn – Livingston Centre, Dedridge East, Mid Calder, East Calder and Wilkieston.
- Lothian Country X28, serving Bathgate – Edinburgh via Deans North, Knightsridge, Craigshill, Dedridge East, East Calder and Kirknewton.
- Lothian Country 275, serving Bathgate – Broxburn via Wester Inch – Blackburn, Seafield, Livingston Village, Livingston Centre, Fastlink, Pumpherston and Uphall.
- Lothian Country 276 extension to include Stoneyburn, Bents and West Calder.
These services will operate on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but the 276 will only operate on Boxing Day and January 2.
In light of the Covid pandemic, a different approach was taken for the 2020 Festive Services contract where services were designed based on essential travel as opposed to social and leisure needs.
St John’s Hospital was a key component in the service design in 2020 with access to health care and essential work travel being the main focus.
By local democracy reporter Stuart Sommerville