Edinburgh has several bus companies that run through the heart of the city, but the most important are Lothian and First. Both companies share the same bus stops, but the bus numbers are different and each company has its own ticket.
Lothian is the dominant city operator with most buses and routes, while First, has fewer bus routes and focuses on the city's outskirts.
If you’re not going to buy a day-ticket, then you won’t have to worry about what bus you take. However, if you decide to stay a little further away from the centre and need to buy a day-ticket, it’s important to see which bus line runs closest to your accommodation. Normally, the best option is to get a Lothian day-ticket, but it will depend on where you're staying.
First and Lothian have similar prices but not exactly the same. For example:
- Single-journey adult ticket: A First ticket costs from £ 1.80 (US$ 2.20) (depends on the distance of your trip), and a Lothian ticket is £ 1.70 (US$ 2.10).
- Single-journey child ticket: Both Lothian and First single tickets cost £ 0.90 (US$ 1.10).
- Lothian adult DAYticket: Lothian offers unlimited use of their buses and Edinburgh trams for one day for £ 4.50 (US$ 5.60). First doesn't offer this type of ticket.
- Lothian child DAYticket: £ 2.20 (US$ 2.70).
- Lothian Adult Airport DAYticket: This ticket offers unlimited use of Lothian buses and trams and includes travel to and from Edinburgh Airport for one day for £ 9 (US$ 11.10). First buses do not run to the airport.
- Lothian Child Airport DAYticket: £ 4.50 (US$ 5.60).
Lothian and First both allow its passengers to purchase the tickets on the bus.
Note that a Lothian DAYticket is not valid on the night buses or on the Airlink (service 100) to Edinburgh Airport.
If you want to purchase your single, return or day-ticket from the bus driver you have to have the correct fare as the drivers cannot give you any change. The tickets are bought from small ticket vending machines on the bus, so remember to save your change for these occasions.
The day buses run from 6 am until midnight. Outside this schedule, Edinburgh has night buses (the N lines).