News & Updates

Find out what's new at Ember
22 May 2024
Fare Update

Since launch in 2020, our goal has been to provide the best possible experience for travelling between towns and cities. That included having affordable, fair and easy-to-understand fares.

In particular, we chose to avoid complex yield management systems which vary ticket prices based on how far in advance you book and how busy a service is. These algorithms can boost short-term revenue but reduce trust – it’s hard to expect people to leave their car at home when public transport penalises them for changing their travel plans or travelling on a busy day.

We’ve also stayed away from short-term, too-good-to-be-true promotions and ensured we maintain our ticket prices at a sustainable level – that means making small increases when our underlying costs increase so that we can keep running high-quality, reliable services.

In line with that approach, on Thursday 23 May 2024 we will be increasing our prices. For tickets booked online, the increase will be small – around 4% reflecting underlying inflation since our last update.

Changes to Onboard Fares

We’re also making more fundamental changes to the pricing on our tickets sold onboard, with much larger increases. Bear with us, because the reason for this is a little complicated.

In Scotland, a large proportion of the population – people over 60, under 22 or those with disabilities – are eligible for free bus travel. You get given a card for this which you tap as you get on board a bus. This tap allows the bus operator to claim back money for the journey from the government.

The tricky bit is for the government to decide how much to pay the operator.

One option would be that the government sets the price they are willing to pay based on the route but that doesn’t work too well. It requires the government to monitor the right price for every possible route in the country. If they get it wrong, they may cause an operator to withdraw services because it’s not viable.

To avoid this, the government instead chooses to pay back operators a percentage of their regular adult single fare. This percentage varies between passenger types but for 60+ travellers it’s 55%. The idea of paying less than a full adult fare is that it’s supposed to leave operators no better or worse off due to the scheme, taking account of the fact that the scheme encourages more people to travel by bus and not all adults would otherwise buy the adult single fare.

This system means that two operators who compete on a route may get entirely different reimbursements for an identical journey, depending on their regular adult single fare. There’s a logic behind this. If one operator charges adults more, they’re probably justifying it by offering a better service (otherwise adults wouldn’t travel with them), and hence it’s reasonable for the government to reimburse them based on that higher fare.

But what if most adults don’t actually pay the regular adult single fare? At that point, the operator can just increase their regular adult single fare to get paid more by the government for concession travellers, without putting off their fare-paying passengers.

It turns out this isn’t a hypothetical. This is how the market functions today.

For example:

  • Many operators offer significant discounts to adults who buy return tickets or daily/weekly passes.
  • Some operators, particularly those running long-distance routes, sell a huge proportion of their tickets online at drastically discounted rates compared to the regular adult single fare charged onboard.

The more an operator does one of the above, the more they get paid for concessionary travel without having to increase the price that most of their regular travellers pay – a win for the operator but a loss for the taxpayer.

We saw these loopholes from the day we launched Ember and flagged them up in the hope they’d get addressed. But we also took a conscious decision not to optimise our pricing to exploit them, instead offering simple pricing where a return is just two one-way tickets and on-board fares only incur a small fixed premium compared to online fares.

The result has been that Ember is currently paid significantly less for each concession traveller compared to direct competitors running on the same route. Consider a single trip from Dundee to Edinburgh. The other operator running a comparable service to Ember is Citylink.

  • Ember: The standard onboard fare is £10.50. Ember receives £5.78 if a 60+ concession pass holder chooses to travel with them.
  • Citylink: The standard onboard fare is £22.30. Citylink receives £12.27 if a 60+ concession pass holder chooses to travel with them.

However, with both Citylink and Ember very few people pay the standard onboard fare – instead the vast majority book online (for Ember, about 98% of fare-paying passengers book online).

Ember’s online fare is currently £8.30 (prior to tomorrow's small increase). With Citylink, there are lots of ways to book online at completely different prices. For example, it’s easy to book for £7.10 on almost every service tomorrow (as of 22 May).

The trick is that Citylink has set their onboard fare so they are earning far more money from concessions, without having to charge fare-paying adults any more.

We believe this system is fundamentally flawed. It represents poor value for money for the government and means we are not operating on a level playing field with the competition. No matter how much focus we put on optimising our costs to deliver better value for money, Citylink will not feel the competitive pressure because they are being paid so much more for taking each concession card holder. It’s a broken market.

To address this, we’ve also decided to update our pricing from 23 May so we’re no longer operating at such a disadvantage. As such, onboard fares will be increasing much more. The price changes will vary based on the exact journey but take Dundee to Edinburgh as an example:

  • Current onboard fare is £10.50
  • New onboard fare will be £19.90

We know that the onboard fare increase will not affect 99% of passengers and for the remaining 1%, we will support them with their booking through our live chat available from 7 am to 9 pm every day of the week. However, it will remain possible to purchase an onboard fare at every one of our stops including those that are pre-booked only (if you call us we can request the bus stops there).

We don’t love making this change. We’d be happy to revert it when the system is fixed and a level playing field is restored. And we have a practical suggestion for fixing the system – pay operators based on the average adult fare actually charged, not the theoretical onboard single fare. This resolves all of the issues identified, whilst not requiring the government to set fares on every route across the country.

In the meantime, we will continue to have simple fixed pricing for all of our journeys. It will cost the same to book 10 days ahead or just 10 minutes ahead. We will continue to offer fully flexible tickets, allowing unlimited changes for free. We will still allow passengers to cancel tickets for a full refund, even when they just miss a bus by a few minutes. We will also continue to provide refunds for any journey that is delayed by more than 30 minutes with our zero-click refund process.

At our core, we’re passengers first and strive to make sure that we’re building a service that we want to use ourselves. If you want to get in touch then we read every email that comes to

5 May 2024
Express Services With Perth City Centre and Wallyford Stops

We'll be launching some additional services over the next couple of weeks. As well as providing express connections from Dundee to Edinburgh and Glasgow, these will connect new stops to the Ember network.

First, we have the E3X route launching on 7 May which runs between Glasgow, Perth City Centre and Dundee. This is the first time we've served Perth City Centre and it'll offer a convenient option for residents or visitors looking to walk to and from the stop. There will be four services per day in each direction. Two of them will run non-stop between Glasgow and Perth. The other two will run between Glasgow and Dundee, with a single stop in Perth.

Just a week later on 14 May, we'll be launching the E1X which runs between Dundee, Kinross, Edinburgh and Wallyford. As well as providing extra seats to and from Edinburgh during rush hour, this is the first time we'll be continuing through to East Lothian where we'll call at Wallyford Park & Ride. At Wallyford, the coach will take advantage of a brand new charger for a quick top-up before it heads home. We're starting with two services per day in each direction but we hope to be able to increase this in due course.

Routes can be seen on our live map and tickets are now available to book for May.

27 Mar 2024
Ember Raises £11m of Fresh Capital to Build out its Intercity Bus Network

We’ve always believed that public transport can deliver a truly brilliant passenger experience and be easily accessible to everyone. All with zero emissions. Now we’ve been able to demonstrate that to leading climate investors and raise £11m of equity.

This fresh funding means we will continue to invest in our state of the art technology and constantly improve the passenger experience. Some of those changes might be immediately obvious the next time you see one of our buses but others might be invisible. But those invisible changes are the ones which will be felt by many thousands of people every day who are wondering why their journey just feels that bit easier.

It also allows us to scale up our route network - something which we get many messages about every week. We’ll be bringing more charging capacity online and launching more routes across Scotland this year, bringing Ember to many new people along the way.

TechCrunch did a great write up of why we’re not just a bus company and why we’re not just a software company. We’re taking this full stack approach because we think it’s the only way to build real change in the industry. Making sure all parts of the system can talk to each other means everything just works - all day, every day.

Our goal is to build a network of high frequency buses which are so easy to use that people can realistically leave their cars at home. That we can do all of this with all electric buses is the icing on the cake.

21 Dec 2023
New Route within Dundee and More Services to Edinburgh and Glasgow

We're excited to launch our third route from 11 January – this time it's a short but useful service from Dundee City Centre to the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc on the east side of Dundee. The route number is E10. We'll be running over 40 services per day in each direction, with three stops along the way (all pre-booked to keep journeys fast). You can see the stops on our live map.

Also on 11 January, we're making a few changes to our routes from Dundee to Edinburgh and Dundee to Glasgow. First we're increasing the frequency to 21 services per day (in each direction) on each route, offering an average of an hourly frequency throughout the day. That's up from 17 services per day on the Edinburgh route and 14 services per day on the Glasgow route. We're also making the timetabled times more accurate, accounting for the latest traffic patterns.

On the Dundee to Glasgow route, we're changing the pick up point in Dundee from our existing stop outside Malmaison to a stop outside the science centre at Greenmarket – the same stop used by our Dundee to Edinburgh route.

On the Dundee to Edinburgh route, we're making a few additional changes:

  • Kinross is becoming a pre-booked stop. This means that buses will only call in there if someone has booked at least 10 minutes ahead, speeding up journeys when there aren't any passengers at Kinross.
  • Overnight services will now call at Edinburgh Airport directly (since the tram connection is not available out of hours), providing a 24/7 travel option. When you book a ticket, you'll see whether your trip includes a tram connection or a direct pick up at the terminal.
  • The drop off stop in Dundee for our return journeys is changing to the railway station, rather than our existing stop at Greenmarket.

Finally, the new E10 service is designed to connect with the Edinburgh (E1) and Dundee (E3) services. While you can't book a through ticket right now, it's coming soon and will allow for seamless travel from the east of Dundee all the way through to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

8 Jun 2023
Ember Becomes the First Bus Operator to Build In-house ITSO Certified Technology

We’ve recently become the first bus operator in the UK to develop their own ITSO certified smart ticketing technology. ITSO is the UK standard for interoperable smart ticketing allowing passengers to travel across modes and operators.

Scotland’s national entitlement scheme — which allows free bus travel to those under 22, over 60 and people with disabilities — is based on ITSO smart cards. This new solution allows us to securely validate cards and prevent fraudulent travel. We had outgrown our existing solution for concessionary travel and no existing ITSO solutions on the market would integrate into our platform, so we developed our own ITSO card readers.

We’re undergoing some final testing of the new readers before rolling them out to our fleet this summer.

29 May 2023
Fare Change

We wanted to let you know that we're increasing ticket prices by an average of 10% from 5 June 2023.

A ticket from Dundee to Edinburgh will cost £8.30 when bought online, up from £7.50. Dundee to Glasgow will cost £9.40, up from £8.50

This is the first change to fares since Ember launched in October 2020. Since then, the cost of running our service has increased significantly. In particular:

  • Electricity prices have more than doubled. We've done our best to keep these down – for example, a lot of the electricity we use to charge our buses comes direct from wind turbines at our charging hub. However, we are still exposed to grid prices to an extent and these are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future.
  • Driver pay has increased across the industry. We welcome this – drivers perform an important role with lots of responsibility so we want them to be paid fairly – but it does increase the cost of running a service.

We know that this change comes at a difficult time for many people but the updated prices will ensure we can run the service sustainably. It'll also allow us to keep investing in improvements, including higher frequency and more routes.

If you are a regular traveller looking to offset the increase, it’s worth taking a look at our credit bonus scheme. This is a flexible way to save 20% on fares when you buy credit in bulk – buy £100 of credit and we'll top it up to £125. Just go to your Ember account and click "Add Credit".

5 Apr 2023
Introducing our Latest Investors

We're excited to announce that Pale Blue Dot and Contrarian Ventures recently led an investment round in Ember. They're joined by a range of individual experts in energy, travel and tech, including the founders of Skyscanner, Monzo and Zenobe.

We couldn't have hoped for a better group of backers. All are strongly aligned with our mission and they bring a range of expertise and experience that will help us to grow faster over the coming years.

You can read about why Pale Blue Dot invested on Substack.

6 Feb 2023
Improved Cancellations

We do everything we can to avoid cancelling services because we know reliability is critical. However, sometimes it's impossible to avoid a cancellation – e.g. due to severe weather or a major road closure. When this happens, our priority is getting information out to passengers as quickly as possible.

To help with this, we've improved how we log cancellations in our system including adding support for partial cancellations (e.g. when a journey has to stop short due to a bridge closure).

This means we can now show more informative information online, such as the cancellation reason. It also allows us to review past cancellations in a structured way, so we can look back and figure out if there's anything we can do to reduce cancellation rates. In the near future, we're be adding further helpful features such as automatic cancellation notifications and more seamless rebooking and refund options.

14 Dec 2022
Now up to Every 65 Minutes to Edinburgh and Every 90 Minutes to Glasgow

We've increased the frequency of our services. Our Dundee to Edinburgh service has a bus up to every 65 minutes and our Dundee to Glasgow service has a bus up to every 90 minutes.

29 Nov 2022
Save with Ember Credit

You can now buy credit through your online account, with a 25% bonus if you spend £100 or over. Your credit will be used automatically for future purchases – just make sure you are logged in. It never expires so it's a good way for everyone to save, even if you only travel from time to time.

8 Nov 2022
Ticket Changes

You can now change your tickets directly, without needing to cancel and rebook. Just click the new "Change" button on your ticket and you'll be able to change your stop, departure time or number of travellers.

There's no fee for changing a ticket and you can do it as many times as you need.

12 Jul 2022
New Dundee to Glasgow Service

We're launching a new route from Dundee to Glasgow. We'll be soft-launching with four services per day in each direction from 14 July. This will be followed by a full-service launch on 1 August with ten services per day in each direction, running 24/7.

It's just £8.50 for an adult single from Dundee to Glasgow if you book online (whether you book weeks before or a minute ahead).

In Dundee, we'll be picking up outside Malmaison in the city centre and dropping off at the train station (about 100m away from the pick up point). In Glasgow, we'll be calling at Buchanan Bus Station. We also have a range of intermediate stops including Stirling (Castleview Park & Ride), Dunblane, Cumbernauld and Perth (Broxden Park & Ride).

During the soft-launch period, it'll only be possible to book a journey to and from Glasgow but we'll be opening up the full range of journeys from 1 August.

You can see the full route and all the stops on our live map.

23 Feb 2022
Online Card Refunds

If you cancel your ticket, you can now request a card refund online as an alternative to Ember credit. We've always offered these as an alternative to Ember credit but previously you've had to contact us by email. This new online option makes it that much easier.

21 Feb 2022
Now up to Every 75 Minutes

We've increased the frequency of our Dundee to Edinburgh service with a bus up to every 75 minutes. We've also introduced a new stop at Bridge of Earn. Some other stops will become pre-booked only, allowing us to maintain fast end-to-end journey times.

31 Jan 2022
Under 22? Travel for Free

The Scottish Government has just launched the new National Concessionary Bus Travel Scheme for Young Persons and we're delighted to be participating from day one. If you're aged 5-21 and living in Scotland, you're eligible to apply for a card that will entitle you to free travel. Once you have a card, you can book for free with Ember – just book as a concession, then tap your card when you get on board the bus.

Learn how to apply for a card.

17 Dec 2021
Take a Tram to the Airport

Book an Ember ticket straight to Edinburgh Airport through our new integration with Edinburgh Trams.

Just search for a journey as normal and we'll automatically include a connection from Ingliston Park & Ride (our closest stop) to the airport. It's only a three minute tram journey and your Ember ticket is valid for the whole journey. Just show it to the conductor on board the tram.

21 May 2021
Updated Dundee to Edinburgh Route

We've made a few changes to our Dundee to Edinburgh route. As well as introducing new pre-booked stops (see our other announcement), we're also tweaking our overall route to go via Ingliston P&R (for easy airport connections) and changing our stops in Edinburgh. We'll now be terminating at St Andrew Square (rather than St Andrew's House) and we're introducing a new stop at Haymarket.

16 May 2021
Pre-Booked Stops

We're introducing a new feature called pre-booked stops. This is a special type of stop where we'll only call if there's a booking at least 10 minutes ahead.

If there's a booking, the driver will be dynamically routed to the stop. Otherwise, they'll drive straight past. This means we can keep end-to-end journey times fast whilst also serving smaller towns and villages.

Our first pre-booked stops will be St Madoes, Longforgan and Edinburgh Zoo – all launching in the next few days – but we hope to add more over time if they're a success.

1 Oct 2020
Introducing Ember

We've just launched the UK's first intercity electric bus service from Dundee to Edinburgh. We're starting with two buses and eight services per day in each direction.

You can read all the details in our press release.