Solved: the mystery of the disappearing bus shelters!
The bus shelters were definitely there on Wednesday. I saw them. There were people standing there, waiting for a bus. As you do at bus stops. But on Thursday – the two bus shelters by the Western General Hospital had gone – vanished into thin air!
Cut backs? Theft for scrap? No, the truth is out – the city council has discovered that the bus shelters removed overnight on Wednesday were dismantled by the company previously responsible for maintaining them.
Clear Channel’s contract to manage some of the city’s bus stops ended on 3 August and the company says it is obliged to remove it’s bus stops within six months. The start of the removal programme saw two stops dismantled from outside the Western General and another partially removed from Princes Street overnight on Wednesday.
The council was initially unaware of the reasons behind the removal but is now in positive discussions with Clear Channel, who have put their removal programme on hold.
Clear Channel owns more than a third of the city’s bus stops. and until 3 August it was contracted to wash, maintain and light the shelters as well as sell advertising. A spokesperson told the BBC: “Clear Channel’s contract to provide advertising sales, and cleaning and maintenance for Edinburgh bus shelters came to an end on August the 3rd this year after four decades proudly serving the people of Edinburgh.
“Since then, as a gesture of goodwill, we have continued to clean and maintain non-advertising shelters at our cost even though we have no contractual obligation to do so. As a further gesture of goodwill, we kept five public toilets open during festival season, again at our cost.”
They said that they had made an offer to the council to sell the non-advertising shelters in August, but heard nothing in return.
They continued: “We are pleased that the council has made contact with us and we remain committed to ensuring an orderly removal of the bus shelters. Their replacement is, of course, a matter for the council and/or any new contractor.”
A City of Edinburgh Council spokesperson said: “We are pleased that Clear Channel have now entered into a productive dialogue with us with a view to finding a resolution to this issue.”
The council will erect one replacement shelter on Crewe Road South next week, with the other to follow a few days later. The old story, you wait ages for a bus shelter to come along then two come along at once …