Night buses are growing in popularity, bucking the general downward trend in ridership. RHODRI CLARK reports on the opportunities and challenges for operators to make them work successfully.

Lothian Buses 8 (SN13 BDV), a Volvo 7900H hybrid, operating one of 12 NightHawk services in Edinburgh, the crosscity N22 between the airport and Leith. KEITH McGILLIVRAY

It is easy to think of reasons why now is not an auspicious time to introduce night buses. Declining patronage and financial pressures are focusing operators’ and local authorities’ minds on services at the busiest times, while digital technology enables people to socialise without meeting in bars and nightclubs. Not wanting to be the only sober member of the group – the designated car driver – on nights out was an incentive to use buses, but millennials – today’s young adults – are less inclined than their predecessors to drink alcohol.

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