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University proposes to cancel the KB shuttle bus

The University of Edinburgh does not want to renew the King’s Buildings shuttle bus for the 2022/2023 academic year, according to a statement to The Student by the current Sabbatical Officer team.

In their statement, the sabbatical officers said that in a regular meeting with the University’s transport team, the team had “brought a proposal…that the Shuttle Bus be canceled”.

The bus currently provides free travel to all students and staff, running directly between George Square and King’s Buildings.

The Sabbatical Officer team has encouraged students to fill out the University’s travel survey, which was sent to students’ email inboxes on March 30th.

They also urge students to sign a student-launched petition against the cancellation, which can be found here.

The Student spoke to several students who would be affected by the cancellation of the bus.

Zixia Jiang, a 1st year Computer Science student, said:

“I think it’s such a pity that we would get rid of the bus.

“This year, I chose two courses [at King’s], and the shuttle bus makes it more convenient for me to get there.”

Jiang also stressed that, without the shuttle bus, he would not choose elective courses at King’s in the future.

Another affected student is Joshua Kerr, a 1st year Astrophysics student, who said:

“For me personally, the shuttle bus is really useful.

“Say I’m running a bit late, I don’t have to speedwalk to get to a lecture or exam on time.

“It would definitely be a disservice if it was lost”.

In past cancellations, the university has encouraged affected students to instead use the Lothian Buses 41 route, which also connects George Square to King’s Buildings.

However, Kerr said the 41 bus was frequently late, and would make a poor alternative to the shuttle bus.

The shuttle bus is also often full, and runs as often as the 41, leading to questions about whether the 41 has sufficient capacity to handle the load.

Charlie Meikle, a 1st year Mathematical Physics student, expressed dissatisfaction at the prospect of the bus being cancelled.

“It’s a bit annoying.

“It’s more money being passed by the students to cover [travel], rather than the uni.

“It’s a bit of a cop out. I don’t think it’s very fair.”

It is unclear if the University has plans to subsidise travel between the two campuses, should the cancellation go ahead.

A 9 month student bus pass from Lothian Buses, which would be the most affordable way to travel between the two campuses if the shuttle bus were removed, currently costs £450.

The university has in the past expressed a desire to replace the shuttle bus with a bus pass scheme, which would see students buy discounted passes for Lothian Buses services off of the university.

It is unclear how much the King’s Buildings shuttle bus cost the University to operate in the 2021/2022 academic year.

However, a publicly available response to a 2019 Freedom of Information request said the University expected to pay £218,000 for it in the 2019/2020 academic year.

A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said:

“The University is currently reviewing the continuation of the shuttle bus service from the start of academic year 2022-23, but no decision has been made as yet.

 “Since January this year, students under the age of 22 who reside in Scotland are able to apply for free bus travel. This provides eligible students with a wide choice of alternative free bus services from across the city to access King’s Buildings and other campuses.

“The University is continuing to look at options for students who are not able to take advantage of the under 22 travel scheme and at arrangements which would allow fair travel opportunities to all campuses.

 “As part of this, we have recently invited students and staff to complete a commuter travel survey. The survey will give us the opportunity to understand how travel behaviours have changed, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Feedback will inform improvements to transport services in and around the University as well as helping to reach the target of net zero carbon by 2040.”

Image courtesy of Joe Sullivan.

By Joe Sullivan

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