At Lothian every customer’s journey is important…

The last year has been full of ongoing political uncertainty as well as substantial challenges for transport providers to overcome, with increased congestion, reducing road speeds and increasing costs.

What is clear to us at Lothian, is that Public Transport plays a crucial role in the future. In how government and public policy is shaped and designed to meet the challenges of pollution and ever-increasing congestion as our cities and towns grow and evolve.

Public Transport is the answer to enhanced mobility, both now and in the future.

Lothian is the UK’s largest municipal transport operator. Our ownership model by the City of Edinburgh and the neighbouring Lothian councils is something we are incredibly proud of, our business and operations are integral to the history and fabric of Edinburgh and the surrounding regions.

Lothian really is the people’s bus company but we are so much more.

Jim McFarlane, Chair of Lothian, said:

“I’m really pleased that our accounts released today demonstrate that we continue to buck the national trend experienced by much of the bus industry by increasing customers, revenues and investment while maintaining profitability and our ability to provide a dividend to our local authority shareholders.

Having a strong and embedded strategy, coupled with the outstanding performance, dedication and ongoing commitment of our management team and staff at all levels allows our  business model  to serve the City of Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothian Councils with innovative customer focused bus services.

We continue to grow and expand, creating new jobs and opportunities by focusing on high quality products coupled with strong delivery by our teams, whilst increasing the levels of transport provision for our customers.”

Transport is a critical part of the economy and through it we connect people’s lives, whether that be for work, social or pleasure. It provides access to many communities and for those that maybe don’t have access to cars or other modes as well as an increasing number of people that want to make public transport their first choice every day.

Young people are a particular focus for Lothian. Ensuring we provide the right journeys and connectivity but also the right access to all the technology that now is integral to public transport so they can make informed choices to get to where they need to be – after all they are not only tomorrow’s customers but should be our customers now!

2017 performance at a glance

Our operations

Lothian City Bus

Lothian City Bus has faced significant challenges during the past financial year. Major road closures and high levels of roadworks as well as the impact of congestion has been felt by the business.

Further enhancements were made to our core operating fleet, pushing us closer to meeting the targets outlined in our BUS2020 strategy, that will see our fleet meet a minimum of Euro5 emissions. As well as improving emissions, significant improvements were made to the customer offering within our fleet, with all new vehicles featuring redesigned and enhanced interior features, including next stop audio and visual displays, live social feeds, enhanced seating and much more, we really are redefining the whole concept of bus travel and our customers’ experience.

Our award winning Airlink service saw the introduction of a successful contactless payment trial, which will be rolled out further across our whole business towards the end of 2018.
The Commercial and Senior Management Team continue to review the scope and context of operations across the city, ensuring customer demand is met whilst adapting to changing travel needs and patterns by reviewing and evolving our network of services. Significant action needs to be taken to ensure buses are kept moving by ensuring adequate bus priority is delivered across our operating area, as well as control and restrictions to other modes including parking, that will reduce congestion, improve the environment and importantly speed up journey times and the customer experience.

High levels of engagement by the senior management team with Scottish Government, our local authority partners as well as key stakeholders has seen the placement and significance of the brand develop further and the opportunities for partnerships widen.


EastCoastBuses completed its first full year of operations during 2017. Significant growth in the market has seen patronage and revenue grow with now almost 100,000 passengers being carried every week. Enhancements to the customer offering including an £1.9million investment in new bespoke vehicles and the on-going development of the initial routes introduced by enhancing frequencies as well as the introduction of additional night services at weekends making and improving vital connections.

Edinburgh Bus Tours

Edinburgh Bus Tours saw a strong year in 2017. A buoyant UK tourism market and the evolution of Scotland and Edinburgh as a key year-round destination saw high levels of patronage delivered.

This was without doubt supported by the strategic decision by the senior management team and board to invest in a completely new fleet of vehicles that were showcased during late 2016.

This has ensured that Edinburgh Bus Tours remains a five-star Visit Scotland attraction and has received a rating of Scotland’s second most visited paid for attraction. This growth has resulted in the need to review our resources and product offering during 2018.


Our people are key.

Strong and continuously evolving relationships with Trade Unions and colleagues at all levels are vital to ensuring the future success of our business. Delivering change and adapting to adversity is key as we rise together to meet those challenges.

Investment and development of our people is paramount at every juncture and with the creation of a new People team across the business this should ensure that our colleagues at every level have the support and professional development that is required to lead the business forward.

Ongoing commitment to mechanical apprenticeships embedded in the business for many years are now starting to deliver our next generation of technical leaders, which only further enhances our engineering expertise and standards across the business.

Management development including technical and skills training as well as one-to-one coaching supported by off-site sessions are changing the environment we work in and improving relationships at every level, as well as how we speak and communicate with each other – ensuring we build trust and giving all the opportunity to share information and ideas.

The Future

Political change of direction around bus services in Scotland could bring high levels of uncertainty for our operations. The Transport Bill and actions around low emission zones (LEZ) all could have significant impacts on our business.

To ensure our business model is sustainable we must continue to evolve and adapt, our market and demographics is changing and we have to ensure that we rise to this to meet our existing customers demands and expectations and attract new at every opportunity.

By expanding our core business by the enhancement of our existing products and the addition of new and other opportunities, we will ensure that we remain ahead of the game and continue to attract people to public transport in Scotland.

We continue to focus on our core strengths whilst embracing new opportunities. Our history and performance speaks for itself: we will continue to deliver high quality, affordable and customer-driven transport solutions whilst applying our expertise to new projects and initiatives.

As we look ahead, there are many challenges but the actions we take, coupled with the passion and commitment of our people, will ensure we continue to deliver outstanding value for our stakeholders and customers.

Richard Hall
Managing Director – Lothian