AN EXPRESS bus from Prestonpans to Edinburgh has been called for in response to the long journey commuters from the town face when using public transport.

Prestonpans Community Councillors invited Prentice Buses and East Coast Buses to a meeting last Tuesday to discuss the possibility of an express bus service at peak times.

This followed a Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance (STAG) report into public transport which highlighted that people living in Prestonpans and Cockenzie and Port Seton faced hour-long bus journeys to Edinburgh – yet those living 14.5 miles further away from the city centre in North Berwick could get a bus to the Capital in just 56 minutes.

But Ian Bieniowski, network performance manager at East Coast Buses, said even if the company could fill a bus at commuter times, those buses would not cover the running costs of the service.

Ross Prentice, owner of Prentice Buses, also attended the meeting.

Brian Weddell, community council chair, said: “We are being treated differently from the people in North Berwick.

“It’s not right that you can get into Edinburgh quicker on a bus from North Berwick than Prestonpans.

“I’m sure you would get the patronage on an express bus at commuter times given the problems with the trains. People are looking for an alternative. They’re getting into their cars and traffic into Edinburgh is getting busier.”

Community councillor Gordon Laing said: “I think that the service that we have down here is absolutely dreadful.

“What you forget with the 26 [bus] is Seton Sands and in the summertime buses are filled before they even get [to Prestonpans].”

But Mr Bieniowski said: “Even if we fill a bus with 75 people in the morning and 75 people in the evening, it still needs to cover running costs.

“We do have buses that come out at peak times and then sit in the garage for the rest of the time but we have to minimise the amount of buses that do that. If that happens then it’s an asset that is making no money.

“At the moment we don’t think it could run commercially as a service. We’re not allowed to run it at a loss.

“The reality is that if you’re travelling from Prestonpans the fare should be about £2.70 like it is from South Queensferry but Prestonpans is still within the city limits. North Berwick pay more.”

Ward councillor Lachlan Bruce asked if there was a reason the company could not charge more for an express service. Mr Bieniowski said that a more expensive express service had been trialled years ago within city limits but had not worked.

Mr Prentice added: “There are more and more pressures coming all the time. We have the low emissions zone coming in Edinburgh and the vehicles will need to be upgraded far quicker than they normally would.”