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Public transport in and from Edinburgh

29 Aug

Now isn’t that just the most exciting blog title ever? No? Okay perhaps not.

If you mention public transport in Edinburgh everyone grimaces and starts on about the trams. I’m not going to say much about the trams only to note that the number of shops in Shandwick Place which have for let boards up greatly outnumbers the shops still open.

Buses are held up as a great example of how a good bus service should be run. The Council own and run them via an arms length company. The buses go all over and some services run at five-minute intervals. Most reasonable routes run at no more than ten-minute intervals and the buses are pretty new, clean and well looked after.

It’s £1.40 (no change given) a single journey and £3.50 for a day pass which is good if you are jumping on and off for a while. Mrs TT and I used 5 buses on a route that normally a single bus would have managed but due to a technical problem, getting on the wrong bus to start with, we had to adapt as we went along. We could actually have used another bus just to increase the record to six but lifes too short.

Last week we encountered an all too familiar issue with public transport and on a bus in particular. A guy got on at one stop, sat behind us and started coughing without covering his mouth. Pretty unpleasant. It happens. You catch stuff and that can happen no matter the mode of transport. Oh yes and there’s a tradition in Edinburgh that you thank the driver as you leave the bus, even if he has driven like a maniac.

Taxis are easy to find and one operator has an app based booking system. There is an Iphone/Ipad app, which you can use to book a time etc. and they come right on time. If you use the computer based app you can apparently see where your taxi is as it comes for you. The taxi drivers are pretty much the same the world over. I usually hope that if it’s an early morning trip the guy isn’t too chatty. There’s no box to tick on the app if you want a quiet driver, well not yet anyway.

Trains? Head to Waverley and you can go to most places. The booking hall can get quite busy especially around summer and the Festival. There are lots of booking machines but for some journeys you need a human to interpret for the train companies. The worst aspect of trains from/to Edinburg is the East Coast Line service.

The government runs the service because the previous franchisee went pop. The service is okay but the trains themselves are appalling. They are okay to look at and the seats are okay but the trains themselves date back to the 70s and they are shoogly. Big time shoogly. Its difficult to work at times, the wi-fi is slow and sometimes the power sockets don’t work.

Virgin are being bumped from the West Coast, no chance of the government getting them to run the East coast? I think Virgins first class service is the best by far. I booked a return journey to London and I got a special offer, which upgraded me to first class on the shoogly. It was okay but not brilliant on the way down and it snowed the day I was coming back. The East Coast line was closed so I went to Euston and asked the guy at the Virgin desk if I could travel part of the way on their service. No problem he said. I checked that my offer ticket was valid on the Virgin train. Again no problem.

I got on and away we went. When the conductor came along he said the ticket wasn’t valid in First Class. By that time I had a free drink and some free peanuts. I argued the toss for a few minutes and then gave in although I said I’d finish my drink and peanuts before I moved.

The carriage was very glitzy and stylish. My ticket was valid but it was only to Birmingham and then I had to change to Cross Country. The least said about them the better.

Waverley is in the process of being redeveloped again. The Council are removing the taxis from the station. Who’s bright idea was that? A Johnny turns up with huge amounts of luggage and has to drag it up an escalator or drag it up the ramp to get to the taxis. What a nice way to welcome people to Edinburgh. NOT

There are also Edinburgh Airport buses for now and there are tourist trail buses, park and ride buses and all manner and size of single and double deckers which serve some of the larger towns around the capital.

There’s definitely a bus to suit you although you may never find it!

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