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Buses are the main form of public transport within Edinburgh. The largest operator is Lothian Buses (owned by the City of Edinburgh Council and the neighbouring councils, with dark red and white buses), First Bus also operates services mainly to/from outlying towns. The local trains (ScotRail) are only really useful for journeys between the city and other towns. From 2014 a new tram line will operate between the city centre and the Airport (via Princes Street, Haymarket, Murrayfield Stadium, the Stenhouse area and the Gyle shopping centre).
If you are driving anywhere near central Edinburgh, bear in mind that finding a parking space can be nearly impossible. One reader (in September 2005) spent close to two hours looking for parking near Princes Street. Local people agree that the situation is ridiculous, and fines are strictly enforced. It is sensible to park outside the city centre and take a bus. The city centre multi-storey cark parks in Castle Terrace and the St James Shopping Centre can often get completely full. A limited amount of metered parking is available on city centre streets, but it is expensive and non-payment results in a £60 fine (reduced to £30 if paid within 14 days).
Princes Street has reopened to buses and taxies following construction work on the new tram line which will link the city centre with the Airport (from 2014). As of April 2013, Shandwick Place and York Place are, however, closed to vehicles for tram construction works.
If you just want an easy highlights overview of the city, there are several very similar bus tours that are all reasonably priced. All start from Waverley Bridge in the city centre (next to the main railway station), but passengers can also get on and off at many stops around the city centre.
Walking around the City Centre is easy too and often the best way to get around and avoid traffic jams! If you have to take a bus (ie if you're staying a little way from the city centre, then buy a Lothian Buses Day Pass for £3.50. A single journey costs £1.50 (adult) or £0.70 (child, aged 5-15). Please have the exact fare ready when boarding the bus (no change is given). If staying for longer, the Lothian Buses "Ridacard" is worth considering (available from the Lothian Buses enquiry offices on Waverley Bridge, Hanover Street, Shandwick Place and Dalkeith). Books of 20 single tickets are also available from Lothian Buses enquiry offices.
There are now 3 new Park and Ride car parks; namely at Hermiston, Ingliston and Sheriffhall. Park your car for free and spend £3.50 on a Dayticket and the city is yours! For more info on Park and Ride go here: http://www.lothianbuses.co.uk/
Lothian Day Tickets are now £3.50 for an adult, £2.00 for a child. Buy them on the first bus you use during the day. You can also buy them online from http://s223634964.e-shop.info/ but you need to order them seven days in advance and have them mailed out to you.
Be aware that Lothian Day Tickets are only valid on Lothian buses. That might sound obvious, but it catches many tourists out. There are two main bus companies in Edinburgh (Lothian and First), plus a few smaller ones. Lothian is by the far the largest. The tickets are not interchangeable.
There are 4 tourist buses; get all 4 leaflets as they all follow slightly different routes but between them cover the major tourist sites. Be aware that they don't start very early, around 9.30am, and the last bus is around 5pm in winter. It is worth buying a Royal Edinburgh ticket if you intend to go to the 3 'top' sites; this gives 48 hours unlimited travel on all 4 of these buses, and free entrance to the Castle, Royal Yacht and Holyrood House; you also get some small discounts.