This week I have received consistent reports that bus trips home from Boroughmuir High School are taking up to 90 minutes (i.e. slower than walking). I contacted the Interim MD of Lothian Buses, Nigel Serafini, yesterday to get his perspective – his response is below.
You will see that he is clear that “delays to services of up to 60 minutes” have meant timetables have been “rendered redundant.” The cause is “significantly increased” traffic volumes, roadworks and “new road management measures”.
An efficient public transport system is key to getting our city out of the economic slump caused by Covid-19. These delays will only force people out of buses and into cars, a move that will only exacerbate the delays and damage Edinburgh’s tentative recovery. I have passed Nigel Serafini’s e-mail to the Spaces for People team so it can be considered as part of the review of the Braid Road closure.
I am well aware of the stress these delays are causing people using the route – particularly S1 pupils are their parents. I have spent the last couple of mornings looking at traffic around Greenbank (see here & here), and on Monday (weather permitting) I hope to look at the evening rush hour as I understand that is when delays are worst.
Update from CEC – “I have discussed this with colleagues in Lothian Buses who have advised that these delays are primarily due – as they see it – to the Temporary Traffic Lights at Kaimes Crossroads which started on Monday and finish today, pushing traffic from the A701 to the A702. As such we might reasonably expect the traffic situation to improve next week assuming the TTL operation at Kaimes is complete.“
In planning for the return of schools we increased service levels and provided additional journeys on corridors where we anticipated capacity issues. In addition to these measures we have provided for back-up vehicles and drivers to be deployed as and when we encounter unexpected customer uplifts. This has worked successfully throughout the many phases of lockdown and more recently as schools have re-opened fully. Unfortunately the effectiveness of these measures has been impaired by a number of external factors outwith our control.
Road traffic volumes have significantly increased this week coinciding with increased roadworks and new road management measures across the city. This has led to significant congestion and delays to services of up to 60 minutes, causing planned timetables to be rendered redundant. As traffic has slowed, loadings have become heavier and additional journeys have been unable to be in the right place and time to cater for school exit times. We are currently re-working timetables to try and mitigate some of these issues by introducing short workings on some timetables to allow a measure of flexibility.
As you will be aware, the compulsory wearing of face coverings on public transport is currently not enforceable by our staff and where family groups or those in ‘social bubbles’ are allowed to travel/sit together we cannot restrict numbers. We have never been asked by the local authority to provide dedicated school transport but we continue to monitor customer numbers and will adjust timetables/frequency’s over the coming days/weeks until hopefully traffic conditions begin to improve.