McGill's Eastern Scottish to pull its services from West Lothian

West Lothian’s bus services should be brought under public control, it has been argued, after it emerged McGills Eastern Scottish is set to pull its services from the county.
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The company told West Lothian Council on Tuesday night that all commercial bus services – including two partly subsidised by the council – will cease and McGill’s will no longer run any services in West Lothian.

Services are set to disappear on December 4, with the X22 and X24 between Livingston and Edinburgh going on October 15.

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Around 80 per cent of all bus routes in West Lothian are fully commercial with approximately 20 per cent funded by the council.

The sun will set on all McGill's services in West Lothian on December 4, with the firm citing a number of commercial pressures for taking the decision this week.The sun will set on all McGill's services in West Lothian on December 4, with the firm citing a number of commercial pressures for taking the decision this week.
The sun will set on all McGill's services in West Lothian on December 4, with the firm citing a number of commercial pressures for taking the decision this week.

McGills cited rising costs, difficulty in recruiting, too many operators and too few passengers for ceasing services.

Consultation with staff will begin shortly, but the firm is “committed to avoiding redundancies”.

McGills Group CEO Ralph Roberts said it is “deeply regrettable” that services will end.

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He continued: “We were fully aware of the challenges that existed for the business in West Lothian when we took over late last year. We have strived to make changes that might place the operation onto an even keel.

“However, despite investing around £4.5 million, we have now come to the conclusion that ongoing losses are simply unsustainable. Inflationary pressures have meant costs have been rising substantially at the same time that revenue is continually slipping.

“Too many operators serving too few customers has destabilised the market in West Lothian.”

Independent Councillor Stuart Borrowman suggested Scotland follow Manchester in taking public control of bus services.

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However, Linlithgow councillor and executive environment councillor Tom Conn warned: “It would take millions of pounds to provide us with enough budget to run buses similar to commercial operators.

“This is clearly going to cause significant disruption to those that use the bus network in West Lothian and it is very sad news for those that work for McGills Eastern Scottish.

“This is a significant blow for bus users locally and it highlights the major problems that many commercial operators are experiencing across Scotland.

“I’m sure we all hope that other commercial bus providers will look to pick up some of these bus routes from December 4 but that is a decision for them.”

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Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop said: “As the local MSP for the Linlithgow Constituency, I was shocked to hear McGill’s announce that they will cease all bus services in West Lothian from December 4.

“These bus services provide essential transport links for my constituents.

“I am aware that there are several historic issues with bus services in West Lothian, including driver shortages and a gradual decline in passenger numbers.

“However, when I met McGill’s after the takeover of services from First Bus in December 2022, they advised of their plans to stabilise bus services in West Lothian. These plans included employing more drivers and ensuring reliable services.

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“I appreciate the pressures McGill’s took on when they took over services from First Bus, however, their announcement this week is very disappointing. I have requested an urgent meeting with McGill’s​​​​​​​.”

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