One of the Lothian buses which passes through part of the Edinburgh South West delivery area is the Number Ten, and residents were delighted when Lothian Buses decided to pioneer their new Eco Buses on this route.
The new vehicles’ green credentials are impressive: described as hybrid, they are run by electric motors using battery power. These batteries are charged using a much smaller diesel engine and by regenerative braking when the bus slows down. This makes them quieter and cleaner than old-style buses and they produce 30% less carbon emissions than an equivalent diesel bus. The new buses should also improve the quality of the air generally, which will benefit pedestrians and cyclists as well as bus users.
Quite apart from these environmental benefits,passengers on the Number Ten have been talking about the free onboard Wi-Fi and the automated stop announcements. A digital display gives the name of each stop as the bus approaches it, which will surely be of help to visiting tourists. The display makes it very easy to see exactly where you are along the route and even tells you how long it is until your destination. Passengers with a visual impairment have welcomed that fact that information about the route and individual bus stops is also conveyed audibly. Many people have wondered who the soft voice making the announcements belongs to.
So I decided to arrange to meet The Voice on the Number Ten Bus. It turned out to belong to Edinburgh woman, Debbie Cannon, who agreed to come to my house for the interview, bringing her 8-year old son with her. My first question just had to be “Did you come on a Number Ten Bus?” Debbie replied that she had and that she had felt quietly proud sitting there listening to her own voice read out the names of the bus stops. Young son, on the other hand, apparently finds it hard not to giggle!
Debbie went on to tell me that, following her graduation in English & Mediaeval History from Cambridge University, and an acting course at Telford College, she had done a variety of jobs, including as a tour guide with Lothian Buses, which had led to her being auditioned for, and getting, The Voice job. At the time of recording, there had been discussions about which style she should use – jaunty and upbeat or more neutral and flat – the latter being eventually chosen. Great care had also to be taken that the various locations were pronounced correctly, with particular attention being paid to putting the stress on the right syllable – eg Tollcross, Lochrin Buildings, Fountainbridge, Viewforth, Polwarth, Craiglockhart, Torphin, Bonaly etc. Only an Edinburgh resident could be sure of getting these right!
The new style buses have been very well received and hopefully Lothian Buses will consider putting eco buses on to more of its routes.
Bridget Stevens is a member of Merchiston Community Council. More info at merchistoncc.org.uk