Over the coming weeks and months, we’re going to be taking a look behind-the-scenes at Lothian to meet some of the people who keep Edinburgh and the Lothians moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
The people you’ll meet in this series are just some of the individuals who together form Team Lothian, and make our company what it is. We Are Lothian.
Name: Thomas Edde
Job Title: Commercial Planning Officer
Describe your role at Lothian in one sentence.
I analyse travel habits across Edinburgh and the Lothians, design the bus network and bus timetables.
How long have you worked for Lothian?
I have worked for Lothian for 8 years now. I started with Edinburgh Bus Tours in 2013 as a ticket seller on Waverley Bridge and moved up to the Commercial Department, where I am now, one year later in 2014. I studied Transport and Logistics Management so I was really pleased to progress within Lothian Buses.
“On a normal year we tend to do two major network changes. Since March 2020 we’ve done more than 12 !”
Favourite part of your job?
I think it is seeing some positive comments from customers about a route change or an extension. Knowing that you have made someone’s life easier is very satisfying.
Most memorable moment?
The best moments actually happen outside the office! When events were still a thing, I got to run special services serving various events such as the Royal Highland Show or Terminal V, and I loved it. These were long days and hard work but so much fun. The team running the buses was always a good laugh, we had some great interactions with customers, and there was always something interesting happening, especially after everybody enjoyed the on-site bars! I cannot wait for these to return.
The last year has been difficult for everyone due to the ongoing pandemic. What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had in your current role at Lothian?
It has been pretty hectic to be honest! We constantly had to adapt the network to various restrictions and lockdowns affecting Edinburgh and the Lothians. Everything changed at such short notice we had to keep revising our plans for the network to reflect an increase or decrease in passenger demand.
It was all about finding the right balance between providing enough buses to allow customers to space out onboard and not providing too many buses to limit our operating costs.
In a normal year we tend to do two major network changes. Since March 2020 we’ve done more than 12 (and there will be more to come!). It was quite challenging but that certainly kept us busy! Thanks to all colleagues and all customers for bearing with us with all these changes.
What’s a common misconception about your job?
There are a few. The most common one is that we can do changes to bus times by just pressing a button. Even though we have really good tools helping us to analyse data (from ticket machines and from the bus tracker system) and a sophisticated scheduling software, changing a bus timetable still require a lot of human interventions and manual work. It’s not that simple!
Changing even a single journey by a few minutes can have an impact on drivers’ duties and rotas that would need to be redone, and that takes time!
On top of that we have regulations preventing us from changing bus timetables too often (once a timetable is published, we have to wait at least 90 days before changing it, but things are a lot more relaxed now during the pandemic).
Finally, what does working for Lothian mean to you?
I would say working for Lothian Buses means helping to keep Edinburgh moving, to facilitate everyone’s mobility and doing something good for the planet.