A PETITION calling on the return of a bus connecting several communities in East Lothian with Edinburgh has been handed over to Lothian Buses.

More than 1,000 people signed the petition for the reinstatement of the suspended X5 service, which was shelved nearly two years ago following the introduction of national lockdown services.

The X5 ran from North Berwick and through coastal villages including Dirleton, Gullane, Aberlady and Longniddry before joining the A1.

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP, has repeatedly called for the service to be brought back.

Without the X5 service, commuters from Gullane and Aberlady face an extra hour on to their journey to Edinburgh.

There is no alternative direct public transport link into the city other than the 124 bus service, which stops at Prestonpans, Wallyford, Musselburgh and Portobello, and takes longer to reach Edinburgh.

Mr Hoy delivered the petition to Lothian Buses’ headquarters in Edinburgh and said: “I have tried to reach out and meet a representative from Lothian Buses for over five months now; however, my correspondence has been met with copy and pasted lines of text.

“Thus far, the company have refused to acknowledge the petition and the strength of feeling in the community about this issue.

“I recognise that there are challenges across the service but the refusal to meet with residents and listen to their concerns is a real let-down for those who relied on the service.

“Lothian Buses are publicly owned and they should be more willing to consider residents' views on this matter.

“As they have refused to receive my petition in person after repeated requests to meet, I have decided to send the petition directly to them.”

The delivery of the petition comes as the Scottish Government recommends ‘hybrid’ working arrangements for office workers, which will involve a mixture of working from home and from the office.

Mr Hoy, who also represents the Conservatives on East Lothian Council as a member of the Haddington and Lammermuir ward, was backed by local authority colleague Jeremy Findlay.

The North Berwick Coastal councillor was similarly keen to see the X5 service reintroduced.

He said: “There is widespread support for the reinstatement of the X5 bus in North Berwick, Dirleton, Gullane and Aberlady – and Craig’s petition proves that.

“Residents who I have spoken to from the area are deeply upset about Lothian Buses’ refusal to consider their views, especially as a publicly owned company.”

Lothian Buses declined to comment when approached by the Courier.