Cancellation of Eastern Scottish routes 21, 23, 25, 26, X22 & X24

3 months ago Mon 13th Nov 2023

eastern scottish

McGill’s Group has announced that it is to cease its bus services in West Lothian.

The operator took over West Lothian services from FirstBus in late 2022. Since that time, McGill’s Group has injected a total of £4.5million into McGill’s Eastern Scottish to turn round the ailing business.

Despite this substantial investment – a mixture of one-off investment and mainly ongoing subsidy from McGill’s Group and its owners - McGill’s Eastern Scottish has faced constant challenges on a number of fronts.

The West Lothian network has endured sustained head-to-head competition from a nearby publicly subsidised operator, which entered the market several years ago. This, alongside a new electrified railway, has meant that Eastern Scottish routes to Edinburgh had to contend with huge competition as well as the challenges of the capital’s roadworks, diversions and congestion. 

The business also had historical and current issues, including driver shortages and long-term, sustained passenger decline.

McGill’s Group said it would enter into consultation with staff and union representatives at Eastern Scottish but said it was committed to avoiding redundancies where possible. The announcement follows a meeting with staff held this evening.

In terms of services, McGill’s Eastern Scottish intends to cease services X22 and X24 between Livingston and Edinburgh from October 15th. (Alternatives exist on Lothian Country routes 72, X27 and X28.)

From December 2nd, services 21, 23, 25 and 26 will no longer run. McGill’s is currently consulting with the local authority on these services and it is hoped an announcement will follow in due course.

There will be no changes to routes 20, 63 and 68 at the present time.

Ralph Roberts, CEO at McGill’s Group, said: “It is deeply regrettable that we are having to cease our West Lothian services and we recognise the angst and uncertainty this will cause for our team members and passengers in the area.

“We were fully aware of the challenges that existed for the business in West Lothian when we took over late last year and throughout that period, we have strived to make changes that might place the operation onto an even keel in the medium to long-term.

“However, despite investing around £4.5million in Eastern Scottish operations, we have now come to the conclusion that the ongoing losses are simply unsustainable. Inflationary pressures have meant costs have been rising substantially at the same time revenue is continually slipping, with passenger numbers showing long-term decline - not helped by significant competition.”

Mr Roberts added that McGill’s Group would do all it could to support staff and passengers in the coming weeks as the changes take effect.

Ralph continued: “McGill’s will be entering into dialogue with staff, union representatives and various local stakeholders to see what can be achieved but it is our firm hope that compulsory redundancies can be avoided.

“We thank our customers who use these routes for their patience and as a business, we will do all we can to make the transition as straightforward as it can be in terms of future journey planning and ticketing.

“We believe that we have done all we can to make our West Lothian operation work, but we need to recognise that with the challenges that exist, we have fallen short. Too many operators serving too few customers for too long has destabilised the marketplace in West Lothian.”

Details of changes

  • From 15th October, buses X22 and X24 between Livingston and Edinburgh will no longer run. Alternative buses exist on Lothian Country routes 72, X27 and X28.
  • From 3rd December, buses 21, 23, 25 and 26 will no longer run. SD Travel and Scottish Citylink will be taking over the sections of services 21 and 23 which were financially supported by West Lothian Council/SPT, and Lothian Country are introducing a number of new services to provide replacements in many other areas which can be viewed here: Lothian Country announces plans for two new routes in West Lothian - Lothian Buses
  • There will be no changes to routes 20, 63 and 68 at this time.

We again thank you for your custom and will be sorry to not have the pleasure of serving you – and you have our reassurance we’ll be doing all we can to deliver the best services we can in the meantime.

If you need any further help with ticketing and journey planning after the change date, just get in touch with our team and we’ll do all we can to help. Call us on 03330 16 61 62 and email us at [email protected]