The rail route between North Berwick and Edinburgh has been in operation throughout the period of this account. It has always been well used, especially by younger commuters as season tickets at a much-reduced rate were at one time available up to 18 years of age, unlike the bus service that charged full rates for those over 14 and latterly over 16 years of age. In the 1990s, the station car park has been enlarged and is used by travellers from various East Lothian towns and villages.
Prestonpans has been relatively well-served by bus transport, especially from 1950, when Scottish Omnibuses / Eastern Scottish / First Bus began a 15-minute service along the coastal route between Port Seton and Edinburgh from between 6am to 11.30pm on weekdays, later on Saturdays; the service is reduced on Sundays. Additional transport was provided between Musselburgh and Prestonpans to accommodate workers at Brunton’s Wire, Stuart’s Cotton and Inveresk Paper Mills. This was discontinued when these industries were closed. Since few people owned cars, the service was well used, both for work and social occasions. Before television affected cinema audiences in the late 1950s, people travelled by bus to see a film, go dancing or shopping.
Residents in the Preston and Shrine areas also used the service between North Berwick and Edinburgh, which initially ran past Meadowmill, Bankton Terrace and the railway station towards Edinburgh. Recently the route has been diverted to serve those living near Hawthorn Road.
Until 1975, licences to run local bus services were granted by the Scottish Traffic Commissioners after submission of routes, fares, ability to run services and so on and, as there were strict conditions, everything usually ran smoothly. After the regionalisation of local authorities in the 1970s, their standards also had to be satisfied. In 1977 the government introduced Professional Competence Status and, soon after, the tachograph and regulation of hours to fit European standards, significantly updating the bus industry.
It was in 1986, however, that the greatest change occurred, when deregulation came into force and the licensing conditions of bus routes were greatly relaxed. This led to a large number of different operators running over the same routes. At one time, there were three operators running four different routes between Prestonpans and Edinburgh and there was a lot of ill feeling and animosity between drivers.
Since deregulation, Lothian Regional Transport has also provided various bus services: one running along the High Street between Seton Sands and Edinburgh and another running from Tranent to Edinburgh, travelling along Preston Road, down Ayres Wynd and along the shore road towards Levenhall.
By the late 1990s, there were still changes being made on routes, but community councils can consult with the management to help with passengers’ requirements. There are more passengers than ever before, despite the increase in car ownership. Fares are comparatively low and passengers travel in modern, high-tech vehicles. Low cost travel for retired people allows them to visit the supermarkets and shopping areas reachable by the many bus services on offer.
Private bus services
A privately run service, Wiles, was based in Port Seton but ran a well-used hourly service between Prestonpans and Tranent, seven days a week. It served workers, shoppers and social occasions, when timings were arranged to suit cinemas, churches and, at one time, dog racing. Wiles supplied coaches and taxis for private hire. T. McKinlay, W. Ralton and W. & T. Johnstone provided coaches; J. Hastie and J. Samuel provided taxis for all types of hire including weddings, funerals and maternity runs to hospitals at a time when car ownership was relatively uncommon.
Increased car ownership has placed existing car parks in Prestonpans under pressure due to limited spaces available. Additional road traffic has resulted in the introduction of traffic lights on the High Street and pedestrian crossings at various location, plus parking restrictions around schools. While new private housing includes, in many cases, either an integral garage or facilities for off-street parking, space in the front gardens of older properties is now commonly converted to provide car parking space.
Given the industrial heritage of the town, the air is unlikely to be any more polluted now than it was in 1945. If anything, air quality is probably improved. However, the effects of these different pollutants are still not fully understood.
The John Muir Way now runs through the parish along the shoreline. A public footpath runs behind the railway line between Prestonpans and Meadowmill. The Baron Court of Prestoungrange is currently considering the production of a book on walks within the parish (see references).