Sunday, 26 August 2012


Thirteen pounds. Not a huge amount of money. A bundle of loose change, frankly. But my, what riches you can acquire if you part with thirteen pounds!

For example, for £13.20 you could have a handsome hardback copy of Debrett’s Guide to the Queen. Beautifully illustrated and with a foreword by former PM Sir John Major, what better way to adorn your coffee table in this, Mrs Windsor‘s Jubilee Year. (Quick, hide those snaps of Harry in the magazine rack.)

Alternatively for your twelve smackers you could impress your dinner guests with a jar of high class caviar for six people. Or would that simply be “fishing” for compliments? Ho ho.

For an extra fiver you could fly from Edinburgh to Oslo or Gothenburg for a Scandanavian short break.

And if your budget is able to stretch to a crisp £20 note, you could NAME A STAR. I am serious.

The other day I passed up the opportunity to do any of these things. Instead I gave my hard-earned thirteen pounds to First Group in return for a couple of tiny, flimsy scraps of paper that you see pictured here.

Wife-features and I fancied a wee jaunt from Musselburgh, the largest town in East Lothian, to Haddington, the quaint county capital a mere eleven miles distant along the old A1. I spent most of the 25 minute bus journey open-mouthed and unblinking as my brain refused to take in the news that such a meagre hop to a neighbouring town had emptied my wallet.

I’ll be writing to First to ask them if they intend to name a bus in my honour or start serving smoked salmon sandwiches on board in light of such blatant gouging.

The same journey by car it seems would have set me back £1.87. £1.40 on a Lothian bus would take me all the way to the far side of Edinburgh. Sadly I suspect our trip to Haddington will be something of a one-off when it’s so much cheaper to Go West instead of further into East Lothian. And that’s a real shame given the charms of Haddington - its farmers market, pipe band in the square, dinky wee toy shop, brilliant bookshop (Kesley’s) and Wife-features’ holy grail, The Bead Shop (which also does wool).

There’s a stooshie in East Lothian at the moment thanks to the council suggesting parking charges at beaches as a way to raise funds. Opponents claim asking visitors to pay a couple of quid to park for the day will devastate the tourism sector. I’m sorry, but £2 isn’t going to put anyone off, is it? I would suggest bus trips that are thirteen pounds a pop should be a greater concern.


  1. Seems a bit like the £5.50 Nairn-Inverness sting. Noticed on Saturday at Nairn County's "Prestonpans Experience" that the no 26 takes you to Seton Sands, going from their to say South Queensferry would cost you £1.40 then?

  2. £1.40 gets you just about that far. Certainly the airport or Cramond it would seem. Lothian Buses is publicly owned. Imagine the benefits if Highland and Moray gave Stagecoach a run for their money! I never understood why a bus from Nairn to Inverness cost the same as the train, and also why the Nairn/Forres/Elgin train wasn't part of the commuter discount area like Beauly/Easter Ross or Aviemore.

  3. Firstly, bus-users and motorists are not totally distinct populations but I'm going to use the terms as if they are.
    I have long feared that bus-users (Green-dad and other activists apart), seem to feel beaten into submission and just take the beating that has occurred over the past 20 years (
    Whereas the motorists have paid cheer-leaders (AA & RAC) whipping them onto believe that they are the poorer sections of society and that they are the ones who have seen the major increase in their costs - despite the opposite being the case. On average, motorists are wealthier than non-motorists. That the coalition chose to remove a scheduled increase fuel tax at a time of arguing the importance of cutting the deficit was very noticeable - as was their inability to say how it would be paid for.
    Rail-users have also seen increases in cost over 20 years but unlike bus-users they seem to have a louder voice and are making their voice heard amongst Tory MPs in the SE of england. As usual, social class seems to be a major factor - trains for the posh, buses for the workers. Thatcher said something about a man finding himself on a bus at the age of 30 being a failure - that seems pretty symbolic. If it were true then I'd be a failure.