Lothian Buses under investigation by market watchdog

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In August, Lothian Buses launched a rescue package to save bus services in East Lothian when First Bus Scotland East announced it would be closing its Musselburgh and North Berwick depots.

Since then, East Coast Buses have stepped in, a wholly owned subsidy company of Lothian Buses. The public welcome the move as it means jobs will be saved and services will continue to run. Lothian promised better services, newer buses and also added two new routes to give communities in East Lothian better connections to and from Edinburgh.

First Bus made the decision to withdraw from the area as the services had not been viable for a number of years. They claim that they tried to save the services by making various cuts but eventually had to suspend their services permanently. However, they expressed their sadness for having to make the decision and were pleased that Lothian were making the move in order to save public transport in the area.

First Buses Paul McGowan, said back in August: “Throughout our consultation into the future of bus services in East Lothian, our priority was to safeguard jobs and protect key services. I am therefore pleased that we have achieved that through the proposed sale to Lothian Buses.”

However, as East Coast Buses are a subsidiary of Lothian Buses, questions have come up as to whether this has lessened the competition for other potential companies in the Edinburgh area. The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) have launched an investigation after fears the move could make Lothian Buses too dominant in the market.

Richard Hall, Managing Director for Lothian Buses said that the step was “standard practice” and “wholly anticipated”, adding that they will offer the CMA full co-operation with the investigation.

The two businesses have been asked to remain separate while the investigation is being conducted, with more information to follow.

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