Transport has always been an issue of interest and sometimes concern for Wester Hailes. When the new estate was first built, little thought was given as to how its residents were going to access other parts of the city, or travel anywhere outside the immediate area. The planners thought that by 1980 most residents would own a car and that their visitors would also be car owners. They built the area with one and a half parking spaces for each household. The result was acres of empty car parks lying like urban deserts across the area. A survey carried out in 1985 showed that three quarters of Wester Hailes residents did not own cars. Meanwhile, in the early days, one bus route had been provided. Many areas in Wester Hailes were inaccessible to buses meaning people had to walk long distances to get to the stops.
In 1978 the transport campaign group HALT were lobbying to improve public transport links for the estate. Of particular concern was the lack of buses in the evening and at weekends. You can read about their actions by clicking here on Sentinel HALT report .
The value placed on public transport in Wester Hailes can be seen from the
concern generated in 1985 when the privatisation of public bus companies was proposed. The Sentinel devoted a centre page feature to the issue and carried out a survey showing how important the bus routes were for people in the area. The Conservative government at the time wanted bus companies to be deregulated so that they were run as commercial companies rather than public services. This caused a lot of anxiety for people who depended on the less profitable routes. The Transport Act of 1985 was duly passed. The bus company remained in the ownership of the then Lothian Regional Council being renamed Lothian Regional Transport. You can read about the battle against privatisation by clicking here on Sentinel bus campaign report.
Over the years, bus routes have come and gone within the area. They remain a vital service for many people locally not only for getting to work, college or school but also for shopping and seeing family and friends. The Sentinel reported on the launch of the No 20. If it had still been in operation, the paper would no doubt have reported on the fiercely contested loss of this service a few years later, and then its re-instatement. How many of these bus routes do you remember?