Public transport is one of the issues re-appearing in the Sentinel across the years, demonstrating its continuing priority for people living in Wester Hailes. Pictures of local buses put up on the Facebook page always attract comment as people document memories and stories associated with bus travel. The sprinter buses in particular are remembered with fondness! But the popularity of the images also points to the fact that for many people in the area, buses were their only source of transport.
In 1983 only a quarter of the local population owned a car and were therefore reliant on bus routes. This often required a detailed knowledge of bus times, and for some residents a long walk to reach a stop. The report Ten Years On commented
“In an area the size of Wester Hailes, certain neighbourhoods are obviously going to be worse off than others. On top of this the estate is primarily designed for the private car and many areas are inaccessible to buses, so quite long walks to and from the bus stops are often necessary.”
Local interest in bus routes and timetables remained high, leading to Sentinel coverage whenever a route was introduced or altered or when a route was stopped. In 1993 Hailesland East Neighbourhood Council organised a public meeting to discuss and debate the bus service or lack of bus service for the Hailesland/ Murrayburn/ Dumbryden area. They were keen to lobby their local Regional Councillors to try to get the 30 route re-instated as was reported here.
Later on that year, the Sentinel highlighted that in the blaze of publicity surrounding the new multi million pound Gyle Shopping Centre, there had been little consideration given to how residents from Wester Hailes would get there if they used public transport. This was of particular concern to people who had managed to get jobs at the new site.
In 2000, First Bus withdrew their popular C5 service, leading to a reduced service for Clovenstone. The Sentinel report highlighted the difficulties this caused, particularly for residents who found it difficult to walk to routes and stops further away, or the other side of busy roads.
Bus services into the city centre have improved over the years with frequent timetables and weekend and late night provision. However, the issue of travelling round the area, or travelling to other neighbouring communities remains more problematic. The community has had to fight to retain services such as the 18 and the 20, enabling access to the Gyle, Asda and the Royal Infirmary. Now the community council is concerned that the public transport links to the new Healthy Living Centre, due to open next month, will not be suitable for people who find walking difficult. It is frustrating that despite all the years of campaigning for better public transport routes, the local community is still not included in decision making processes when designs are being considered for this aspect. If they had been, they would have been able to point out that the 30 whilst running near to the centre does not have stops close enough for people with limited walking ability, particularly if you are on the out of city route. The community council has therefore organised a special meeting to look at this issue and to see if a proper solution can be implemented to ensure that the new centre is fully inclusive. The meeting is on Wednesday 14th August 6pm at the Wester Hailes Library. Representatives from Lothian Buses and councillors will be there.