Lothian Buses[1] is the only municipal bus company in Scotland and the largest municipal bus company in the United Kingdom.[2] It is the dominant provider of bus services in Edinburgh. Transport for Edinburgh, a company wholly owned by City of Edinburgh Council, owns 91% of the company, with the remainder being owned by East Lothian and Midlothian councils.[3]

Lothian Buses operates the majority of bus services in Edinburgh, extending to outlying suburbs, towns and villages. The company also operates several limited stop express routes, an Edinburgh Airport service, Park and ride services and a night bus network as well as several tourist services.

Lothian operates four travel shops (three in the city centre and one in Dalkeith), and operates buses from three depot locations; Longstone, Annandale Street and Marine. The company also maintains a driver training school and an engineering depot at Seafield.


Main article: History of Lothian Buses
File:Lothian Buses bus 898 Volvo B9TL Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini SN08 BXL Harlequin livery.jpg

The company can trace its history back to the Edinburgh Street Tramways Company of 1871, also involving at various times the tramway companies of Leith, Musselburgh and Edinburgh North. The City Council (Edinburgh Corporation Tramways Department) took over operation of the tramways in 1919, at which time most of the system was cable operated. Electrification of the tram network was completed in 1923,[4] but the first motor buses had arrived in 1919.[5]

The tramway was closed between 1950 and 1956, after which the operation became the Edinburgh Corporation Transport Department.[6] In 1965, it purchased its first rear-engined double-decker bus. Almost 600 buses were added to the fleet over the next 17 years.

In 1975 Edinburgh Corporation Transport was renamed Lothian Region Transport. In 2000, it was again renamed as Lothian Buses.[7]

On 15 August 2013, Edinburgh Council announced the creation of Transport for Edinburgh, a new public body meant to oversee public transport in Edinburgh, including both buses and the new tram system. Transport convener for Edinburgh Council Lesley Hinds stated: "Our first priority will be integration between bus and tram services and we will have the executive directors of Lothian Buses on the board of the new organisation".[8][9]


Lothian have won several awards for their services to Edinburgh and the Lothians including Bus Operator of the Year in the 2007 UK Bus Awards,[10][11] and has subsequently been voted Public Transport Operator of the Year (Bus) at the 2008 National Transport Awards. When the company was cited for its substantial route development, 32% growth in passenger numbers since 1998 and £100 million investment in low-floor buses since 2000.[12]

Lothian Buses was voted Best UK Bus Company in 2002 and 2003,[13] and vehicles currently carry the wording Voted Scotland's Best Bus Company 2006 in a laurel wreath type logo near the fleetname.

In November 2011, the company won the Top City Operator of the Year award at the UK Bus Awards.[14]


Lothian Buses have operated a flat-fare system, charged per adult, since March 2006; child fares, all-day tickets, pre-paid multiple singles and 'Ridacards' are also available, with senior citizens travelling on free travel passes in line with the rest of Scotland. Since March 2013, an adult single fare is £1.50, a child is 70p, and a day ticket is £3.50.[15]

Historical Lothian Buses' fare
Fare starting Adult single fare Adult day ticket
pre March 2006 £0.80/£1.00
March 2006 £1.00 £2.30
April 2008 £1.10 £2.50
March 2009 £1.20 £3.00
April 2011 £1.30 £3.20
March 2012 £1.40 £3.50
March 2013 £1.50 £3.50

Cash payment is placed in a hopper, which automatically dumps into a vault that the driver has no access to. Change is not given, increasing security and allowing passengers to board more quickly.[16]

The Lothian 'Ridacard' bus pass is a pre-paid plastic smartcard giving unlimited travel on regular daytime and night bus services.[17] It is purchased initially from a Lothian Travel Shop, where the owner's picture is incorporated on the card to prevent mis-use. Once purchased, the card can be placed on an on-board reader, which reads the RFID chip in the card. Cards can be credited for a weekly, 4 weekly or annual period. A warning is displayed on the last five days of validity. The card can then be topped up at Lothian Travel Shops or Pay Point equipped retailers.[18]

Bus networkEdit

File:Lothian Buses Number 3A.jpg

In conjunction with management changes and route branding, the route network has undergone considerable change with the removal of several apparently confusing aspects such as letter prefixed routes and clockwise/anticlockwise circular services. Some services have been transferred to and re-routed in Princes Street from the parallel George Street in New Town, after the banning of cars from most of Princes Street and the closing of certain access points.[19]

The majority of the current network comprises through routes that pass through the city centre from opposing termini. Most services pass in part or in full along Princes Street, with Bristo Place and Leith Walk being the crossing points for the remaining cross city services. There also exists a northern and a southern semi-circle orbital routes, and a local loop in the Sighthill area.[20]

Many routes are contained within the Edinburgh conurbation, whereas others, most notably the 'playing card' branded routes, extend into surrounding areas, such as Penicuik, Tranent, Mayfield, Balerno and Edinburgh Airport.[21]

Double deck buses show an intermediate points display, as well as a final destination. Lothian's double deck buses are unique in the United Kingdom in still displaying the destination at both the front and rear. In early mornings and late evenings, some services are curtailed to the city centre or to early termini, in the transition to the night bus service. In such cases, 'Part Route' is displayed in the intermediate display. Certain routes have all day short working termini, and minor diversions which are often indicated through the use of internal or external 'tram boards'.[22] Since 2006 double-deck deliveries feature a 'Route Diverted; intermediate display, used when road closures cause a service to be diverted from its normal route.

Night busesEdit

Lothian also operates a nightbus network.[23] Ridership increased when the routes were re-numbered and re-routed to match daytime routes and increased in frequency. The operation of night buses provides a continuous 24-hour bus service to some areas of the city.[24] This ticket allows for unlimited travel all night on any night bus.[25]


Lothian operates three garages, and has an engineering works at Seafield, where major work on buses is carried out. Template:Kml Template:PoIgb start Template:PoIgb Template:PoIgb Template:PoIgb Template:PoIgb |}

The previous company headquarters and engineering works in Shrub Hill, off Leith Walk, were sold in 1999 subject to planning permission, after Lothian occupancy dating back to tram operation in 1871.[26] After repeated delays, controversies and a public inquiry,[27][28] in 2004, the site was sold to BL Developments for £12m so that the site could be developed flats and houses.[29][30] Lothian also maintains four Travel Shops. Three of these are in the city, at Waverley Bridge, Hanover Street and Shandwick Place (in the West End). A fourth Travel Shop opened at the Jarnac Court shopping mall in Dalkeith town centre on 4 February 2008.

A lost property office is located at the Central garage. This facility is to be moved in the near future to the travel shop in Hanover Street, the reasons given by the company are its more central location and general convenience to the public. All bus stops are detailed with the route number/s of calling services. Certain strategic bus stops are designated interchanges, with associated signage, such as Cameron Toll and Haymarket. Many bus stops are accompanied by real time tracking display, giving the time in minutes until the arrival of the next services, or an indication that a delay has occurred.


Main article: Edinburgh Trams
File:Guided Busway West Edinburgh.jpg

When Edinburgh Trams commences operation in 2014, Lothian Buses' services will be integrated, with both being owned by the council. Lothian Buses services will interchange with the trams at various locations. The now closed guided busway element of Fastlink will form part of phase 1a of the tram permanent way.[31] As a consequence of the trams being introduced, the fleet will be reduced in size by 19 buses.[32]


Main article: History of Lothian Buses
File:Lothian Buses bus Leyland Olympian Alexander RH, 16 November 2005, route 41.jpg
File:Lothian Buses bus Volvo Olympian Alexander Royale Red and White livery May 2009.jpg
File:Dennis Dart SPD in Marchmont.JPG

Edinburgh Corporation and Lothian have historically employed a high degree of standardisation of their service bus fleet, including the use of low-floor buses to facilitate maintenance savings. Lothian have never employed minibuses on their services, although some midibuses were used for a time. As at December 2012 the fleet consisted of 721 buses.[3]

Current vehiclesEdit

Lothian Buses has a modern fleet by national standards, with an average vehicle age of 5.6 years.[33] As of 1 September 2009 the main service fleet is all low floor.[34]

The majority of the current main service fleet comprises:

28 Plaxton President Dennis Trident 2s have been converted to open-top, all for use on tour and sightseeing operations.

All vehicles are fitted with internal and external CCTV cameras and cab radios, for passenger and driver safety,[35] bus lane enforcement and assisting the police,[36][37] although they have also been used in action against the company's own drivers.[38][39]

At the end of 2009, Lothian Buses started replacing their ticket machines with the Wayfarer 200 ticket machines. These machines have been supplied by Transport Scotland as part of the National Concessionary Travel Scheme to improve free travel throughout Scotland.

Preserved vehiclesEdit

Main article: List of Lothian Buses Preserved Vehicles

Many vehicles previously used by Lothian Buses and its predecessors have been preserved (or are awaiting preservation) by various groups and societies. Several of the vehicles regularly appear at events, rallies and running days around the country.[40]

Main fleet liveries and route brandingEdit

Main article: History of Lothian Buses
File:Lothian Buses 833 G833GSX.jpg

Traditionally, Edinburgh Corporation, Lothian Regional Transport and Lothian Buses had a livery of madder (a dark red) and cream, with matching madder leatherette seating. Some coach-seated Alexander RH bodied Leyland Olympians and Alexander Royale bodied Volvo Olympians were painted in the same scheme, but with red in place of the madder. These vehicles are not branded for, but usually operated only on routes 15/15A.[41]

While Lothian had traditionally maintained a uniform livery for all buses,[42] deliveries of low floor vehicles has seen a new standard livery introduced. Route branding has been increasingly used by Lothian since the introduction of low floor vehicles. Route branding highlights the route of certain services making the buses easier to be spotted throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians. Since May 2010 the Harlequin livery used to identify low floor buses has started to be phased out, as the company is now a full low floor operation,[43] with a return to the traditional madder and white livery although the style has been altered slightly to suit the lines of modern buses. Each type of bus owned directly by Lothian Buses has had at least one of their type painted in the new livery.

In July 2011 Lothian introduced 60 new double deck buses. These buses continued with the same madder red and white pattern on the outside of the bus but Lothian Buses changed the seats to a matching madder red colour.[43] They also changed the entrance to the bus to a more wooden effect. Routes 4, 5, 19, 23 and 27 were the first buses to receive this branding.

Eco branding
File:A Lothian Buses 'ecobus' at Tollcross, Edinburgh.jpg

New branding was created to go with the reintroduction of the madder and white livery to Edinburgh. The buses used on route 36 are gradually being repainted in green promoting colours to reflect the type of engine used.[44] In 2011, 15 Alexander Dennis Enviro400 hybrid buses were added to the fleet and began operating on route 10 between Western Harbour and Torphin. The new hybrids had some first for Lothian Buses: a madder and gold colour scheme, free Wi-Fi, alloy wheels and electronic destination displays.[45]

In 2013 Lothian took delivery of 10 Volvo 7900 single-deck hybrids.[46] These have entered service on route 1. Another 20 will be delivered in 2014.[47]

Penicuik City Link

Buses for routes 37, 47 and X47 between Edinburgh and Penicuik were branded as Penicuik City Link, with blue uppers and roofline, and the positions of the red and madder on the skirting transposed. In 2011, one of these buses was repainted into madder and white, with no roof colour. However, the other vehicles in Penicuik City Link colours are now to be repainted into the new madder and white livery with a turquoise mint coloured roof and the name Pen-Y-Cog. This is to celebrate the history of the area as Pen-Y-Cog is the original name for Penicuik.

Playing cards theme
File:Lothian Buses Number 44.jpg

Four double decker routes using the low-floor scheme are, or have been, based on a playing card theme, with the symbol of the suit incorporating the route number;

  • Route 3/3A was, until September 2010, Club Class – across the City and Midlothian with extra yellow on the uppers and roofline and a black "club" symbol. Bus 720, formerly one of the "Club Class" branded buses, was repainted into the new madder and white livery with a yellow roof and "3 Connect" branding in spring 2010, and it was expected that this would replace the Club Class branding. However, in September 2010, it was announced that the 3 and 3A would be rebranded, using the same livery style as trialled on 720, as The Lady Victoria to honour Midlothian's mining heritage as the routes pass the Scottish Mining Museum based in the former Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange.[48]
  • Route 26 was, until mid-2009, East to West Through the Heart of the City featuring red on the roofline, gold between the decks and a large heart with an arrow symbol.[49]
  • Route 31 was Ace of Spades – cutting across the city and Midlothian with orange uppers and roofline, and a black spade symbol, which was worn by buses 751–768. However, these buses have been repainted into madder and white with no route branding.[50]
  • Route 44 was Service with a Sparkle with black uppers and roofline and a yellow diamond symbol. This is now being superseded by a new branding, "The Mill Race", with pebble grey uppers and roofline.[51]

Two single-deck routes also received branding based on the playing card theme, Route 29 was branded as The Best Deal (Volvos 136–150, red) and route 49 Leader of the Pack (Volvos 151–160 and 170, blue). Volvos 151–160 have now been repainted into a new branding for route 49, The Queen of Scots with 136–138 and 170 now repainted into standard madder and white. Meanwhile, Route 29 has been rebranded as The Stock Brig.

Connect branding

Mid 2009 saw the introduction of Connect branding,[52] with the first example being red-based 26 Connect: Clerwood, City Centre, Seton Sands / Tranent This supersedes the earlier playing card theme. The second example applies to new, buggy friendly vehicles on route 22, with the branding 22 Connect: Gyle + Edinburgh Park, City Centre, Ocean Terminal The base colour here is pink. A third example was applied to bus 720 on route 3, with the legend 3 Connect. The base colour here is yellow, and was applied together with a new interpretation of the classic madder and white livery. The 3 Connect branding was replaced by The Lady Victoria branding in October 2010.[48]

Zoom to the Zoo advertising
File:Lothian Buses bus 322 Volvo B9TL Plaxton Gemini 2 Route 26 Connect Zoom to the Zoo zebra branding.jpg

In June 2009 Lothian Buses entered into a two-year deal with Edinburgh Zoo to create a fleet of ten vehicles carrying animal-themed advertising designs over Route 26 Connect branding.[53][54] Five variations exist, on two vehicles each:

  • "Recognise Anyone?" – featuring the chimps
  • "Dive On" – penguins
  • "Have a Purrfect day Out" – tigers
  • "Go Faster Stripes" – zebras
  • "Take Off!" – rainbow lorikeets


History of tour operationsEdit

Main article: History of Lothian Buses

Lothian had operated city tours using white liveried coaches. Later, Leyland Atlanteans were employed in this same livery, with blinds for City Tour. These wore an updated version of the white livery with blue detailing after a short period. An Edinburgh Classic Tour was set up in 1989 using open top Leyland Atlanteans, and later Leyland Olympians, which competed with Guide Friday.[55] This was as a result of Guide Friday introducing competition on the city centre to Airport route. The buses wore a blue and white livery, each carrying a name e.g.Scottish Star, Lothian Star and Highland Star. Lothian also operated open top tours in Oxford (in conjunction with local operator Tappins) and Cambridge under the Classic Tour identity.

Edinburgh Bus ToursEdit

File:Lothian Buses tour buses Waverley Bridge in May 2009.jpg
File:Lothian Buses open top tour bus 11 (RCL2241) Routemaster CUV 241C Mac Tours livery, 29 August 2010.jpg

Lothian operates several open top double deck tour bus services under four distinct brands: City Sightseeing,[56] Edinburgh Tours,[57] Mac Tours[58] and The Majestic Tour.[59] The City Sightseeing tour is operated as a franchise of the City Sightseeing brand.[60]

City Sightseeing, Edinburgh Tours and Mac Tours visit the Old Town, New Town, Calton Hill, Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle, albeit on slightly differing routes. The Majestic Tour operates a long loop from Holyrood and New Town, via the Royal Botanic Garden, to the coast at Ocean Terminal, the site of the former Royal Yacht Britannia.[60]

The Mac Tours operation uses Routemaster buses in a dark red and cream livery, with See Edinburgh By Vintage Bus branding. All other tours use Plaxton President bodied Dennis Trident 2s. For the City Sightseeing tours, the livery is red, for Edinburgh Tours the livery is white and green, and Majestic Tours use orange and blue coloured vehicles.

Forth ToursEdit

Since 2007 Mac Tours has operated a bus for Forth Tours providing departues from Waverley Bridge for their various tours and cruises of the Firth of Forth.[61] The bus used is a dedicated Plaxton President bodied Dennis Trident painted in a special yellow, blue and green Forth Tours livery.(Template:Plainlink).


Airlink 100Edit

File:Lothian Buses bus Volvo B9TL Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini 2 Airlink livery May 2010.jpg

Lothian Buses operates a dedicated limited stop service, route 100, to Edinburgh Airport from Waverley Bridge along Corstorphine Road. This service uses a dedicated fleet, special fares and its own web-site. An orange winged 'A' logo adorns the web site and the interior/exterior of the vehicles.[62]

After the original Leyland Olympians in plain Airline blue, the later Scania OmniDekkas were replaced by new Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B9TLs in March 2010. The new vehicles included "E-leather" upholstery (a type of manmade composition leather made from recycled waste leather offcuts), power sockets, CCTV which enables passengers on the top deck to watch their luggage on the lower deck, LED lights and free wi-fi. The vehicles cost over £200,000 each, £30,000 more than standard vehicles, and carry a two-tone blue and red livery.[63] The previous Scanias carried a livery of white and light/dark blue, with orange detailing.

Park & RideEdit

Edinburgh has a network of existing and proposed Park and Ride sites.[64] Lothian buses call at some of these sites:

East Lothian BusesEdit

File:East Lothian Buses - - 3100248.jpg

In June 2012 Lothian Buses expanded into East Lothian with the introduction of route 113 from Edinburgh to Pencaitland following First withdrawing from the area.[65][66] Route 113 is operated by a separate legal entity, Lothian Country Buses, trading as East Lothian Buses.[67] Initially operated by existing Lothian buses, the service is now operated by five Wright Eclipse 2 bodied Volvo B7RLEs painted in a green and cream livery (similar to that of the former SMT/Eastern Scottish buses).[68]

Vehicle trackingEdit

Lothian Buses are active members of the Template:Plainlink system and are responsible for the funding of it as well as being partly responsible for the operation of it.[69] It operates by tracking the movements of buses; computers then relay this information to the designated bus tracker signs throughout the city giving real-time and more up-to-date information on when buses are due to the passengers.[70]

In December 2009, it was announced that following the success of Bustracker, an application had been developed for the iPhone that is similar to the way Bustracker works. It allows people to download an application to their iPhone that enables them to see where their nearest bus stop is and when the bus is due. Although not developed by Lothian Buses or The City of Edinburgh Council, the application has now won the backing of both companies.[71] My Bus Edinburgh is an application developed for the Android platform which is similar in functionality to the iPhone application. Like the iPhone application, this application is developed by an independent developer, backed by Lothian Buses and The City of Edinburgh Council, and is available free of charge.[72]

In August 2010, the company introduced an early running alarm system for drivers, which is linked into the automatic vehicle tracking system, and sounds an alarm and displays warning messages if the bus is running early.[73] This was as a result of the company being fined £10,500 by the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland, having been found to be running buses early. After a customer complaint, Vehicle and Operator Services Agency monitored services 45, 27, 4 and 16 in February 2010, and found that of 303 instances, 44 buses were running early, despite starting the route on time, while 20 were running late. The company's defence was that they had built in some running time to cope with the delays due to tram works, but in some places, these works had ended early. The Commissioner accepted this defence, and chose not to take action against the company's operating licence (which authorises a maximum of 700 vehicles). Instead the Commissioner imposed a fine set much lower than the legal maximum (calculated as £550 * 700 vehicles = £385,000)[74]

In popular cultureEdit

Since 2006, Lothian Buses Seafield depot has been used as the setting for the CBeebies programme Me Too! under the name of Riversea Buses. The company's staff also feature in the show. Of the firm's participation in the series, the company's then Chief Executive Neil Renilson said "It's a good opportunity to keep public transport in the eye of the next generation of customers."[75]

See alsoEdit


  1. Companies House extract company no SC096849 Lothian Buses plc
  2. Lothan Buses Challenges Youth Unemployment Lothian Buses 9 May 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 Annual Report 2012 Lothian Buses
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  8. Transport for Edinburgh: New body to oversee trams and buses BBC News 15 August 2013
  9. "Transport for Edinburgh" Coach & Bus Week 4 September 2013 issue 1103 page 4
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  33. Bus and Coach News – Lothian orders Euro 3 and Euro 4 published 7 February 2006
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  43. 43.0 43.1 Template:Cite paper
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  46. Ten new Volvo 7900s in Edinburgh for Lothian Buses Volvo Buses 16 April 2013
  47. New buses for our fleet Lothian Buses 30 October 2013
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  56. Companies House extract company no SC127511 City Sightseeing Edinburgh Limited
  57. Companies House extract company no SC230326 Edinburgh Bus Tours Limited
  58. Companies House extract company no SC225977 Mac Tours Limited
  59. Companies House extract company no SC127509 Majestic Tours Edinburgh Limited
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  65. All Aboard as East Lothian Buses is Set to Launch Lothian Buses 1 June 2012
  66. City bus service expands network to East Lothian STV News 11 June 2012
  67. Companies House extract company no SC208702 Lothian Country Buses Limited
  68. Greener Buses for East Lothian eurotransport 28 October 2012
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External linksEdit

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