A long walk to the polling booth for Midlothian pensioners

Age Scotland were alerted to another instance of older people being let down by public transport when Elizabeth Bryce of Newton Village in Midlothian told us the only bus going through her village had been cancelled.

“We have to walk for three-quarters of a mile to cast our vote at Danderhall library. And I’m 65 and my husband’s 71,” she said.

Mrs Bryce

Mrs Bryce

Residents of Newton and the other small villages in the area used to catch the 328 bus into Danderhall and Musselburgh but the bus operator cancelled the service at Easter claiming they were losing money. Midlothian Council have since set up a subsidised ‘Ring and go’ taxi service at a flat fare of £1.50 each way but the National Entitlement Card doesn’t cover it.

“People can go all over Scotland with their bus pass but I can’t even get to the local shops. It costs me £3 to go and get a pint of milk,” said Elizabeth.

“My friend’s in her 70’s and she had to get a house call yesterday because she couldn’t get to the doctor’s surgery. Folk are getting depressed. We used to be able to catch the bus and go and sit at Musselburgh harbour on a nice day but now we’re trapped,” she added.

Although the bus contract was not up for renewal until 2016, Edinburgh Coach Lines gave Midlothian council the obligatory 90 days’ notice of cancellation and no other tenders were considered to be financially viable. The council set up the ‘Ring and Go’ service as a short-term solution.

However, more than a month on, there is still no sign of a replacement bus.

Elizabeth thinks that the nearby Shawfair housing development is being used as an excuse to leave them without a bus, as is the new Borders railway which will stop outside the village, but neither development will improve transport links immediately.

“Why should we have to wait years,” asked Elizabeth, “when they can do something like altering the existing route of the number 30 to come through the village once an hour. That’s all it needs.”

If you have a similar story, we want to know. Please contact us:


Find out more about Still Waiting, our campaign to end transport isolation.


An extended Family

We went to visit Age Scotland member group Broomlands and Bourtreehill Age Concern.to find out more about what they do and how important it is for them to be able to provide transport for the community.

Age Scotland is calling for a long term strategy for community transport, backed by increased and more sustainable funding. This is necessary to ensure the lives of older people who are unable to access suitable public transport aren’t blighted by loneliness, and by the negative health impacts associated with it and have the opportunity to love later life.

Follow our Still Waiting Campaign

Find out more about the Scottish Government’s recent award of £1million grant money for minibusses.



Don’t miss the bus

This Friday, 25th October, Age Scotland’s online petition calling for action to end isolation among older people will close.  Campaigns officer Doug Anthoney reflects on the campaign’s progress and next steps.

Still Waiting campaigners

In February we launched the Still Waiting campaign; which calls for action to stop older people becoming lonely and isolated due to lack of suitable transport services.  If you haven’t already signed our online petition, please don’t miss your chance to do so before it closes.

So far we’ve succeeded in putting the transport problems faced by many older people high on the political agenda.  38 MSPs signed up in support of the campaign; more than a quarter of the Scottish Parliament, including the leaders of each opposition party.  Many of these MSPs backed our call for action during a Parliamentary debate on Still Waiting .

The campaign was also reflected on by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee during its inquiry into community transport services.  They agreed with us that it was unfair that older people who are unable to use regular bus services, due to disability, ill-health or geography, end up out of pocket while their peers enjoy free travel.

But we’ve not yet succeeded in convincing the Scottish Government to adjust the National Concessionary Travel scheme so that older and disabled people can use their bus passes on community transport services.  Ministers say that demand and costs could prove too great, given our ageing population.  We say that, given our ageing population, the cost of inaction is even greater as older people who become isolated from their community are more likely to suffer ill health and need residential or hospital care. 

Community transport services provide a lifeline for older people who can’t use mainstream buses, but themselves need a funding lifeline if they are to thrive and meet growing needs.  The Government is considering additional funding for community transport vehicles, which would be welcome, but won’t in itself secure the future of these services.  Including them in the National Concessionary Travel scheme offers a more sustainable, long term solution.

So please sign the petition before next Friday, and encourage your online friends to add their support.

Still Waiting campaign