A million Aberdeen bus passengers experience better journeys thanks to new city centre bus priority

Lucy JohnstonNews

Almost 600,000 bus passengers a month are now experiencing better journeys because of the new bus priority routes in Aberdeen city centre.

Two months on from their introduction, new figures from First Aberdeen and Stagecoach show the bus gates are already delivering measurable benefits for bus passengers across the region. The priority works have been delivered by Aberdeen City Council, funded through the North East Bus Alliance bid to the Scottish Government’s Bus Partnership Fund (BPF).

Scottish Transport Minister, Fiona Hyslop, visited Aberdeen today (Tuesday, 24 October) to meet with the North East Bus Alliance. The bus alliance partners, which include Nestrans, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, First Aberdeen and Stagecoach Bluebird, took the opportunity to highlight to her the success of the new measures so far:

  • Almost 600,000 bus passengers a month across both First Bus and Stagecoach are benefitting from the bus priority measures.
  • Punctuality has improved, with First Bus seeing a 3% improvement and reaching 95% of their services using the new bus priority measures operating on time.
  • More Stagecoach services are also now running on time within the city centre, with an improvement to departures from Union Square Bus Station where many journeys to Aberdeenshire start and terminate. Services such as the popular 727 route to P&J Live and Aberdeen Airport, have also seen punctuality improve by up to 3% since the measures were introduced, to a high of over 95%.
  • First Bus has since launched a special 50% off ticket offer to complement and support the priority measures and to encourage more people to use the bus and benefit from the improvements.
  • Both major bus operators are now gathering data on these improvement in order to support future enhancements to services such as faster journey times and potential increases to services frequencies.

By stopping buses being held up unnecessarily in city centre traffic, bus journey times can be quicker and more predictable. This will have a significant impact on the daily lives of bus commuters and thousands of bus passengers across the north east who make journeys into Aberdeen. With this increased efficiency, operators hope to enable additional services, improving overall service frequency and reliability.

Robert Andrew, chair of the North East Bus Alliance said, “Over a million bus passengers have experienced real benefits since the new bus priority route was implemented two months ago, endorsing this first stage of our ambitions to regenerate and transform public transport provision in the North East.

“It is great to see that the city centre bus priority is already making an impact. Looking ahead, the delivery of these early measures is key to improving public transport provision and the future success of an Aberdeen Rapid Transit system, which will connect key destinations across the region.

“Our successful bids to the Bus Partnership Fund have been instrumental in enabling these works. I am delighted that we’ve been able to welcome the transport minister and demonstrate the success so far. As an alliance, we are working closely with Transport Scotland to discuss future opportunities to maximise further investment, and improvements, through the BPF.”

Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop said: “I’m really pleased to see first-hand how the bus gates in Aberdeen City Centre are already delivering for the millions of bus passengers that travel through the city every year. I also welcome the wider work underway with the North East Bus Alliance to encourage more bus use, including the ongoing work on Aberdeen Rapid Transit (ART), the national importance of which is recognised in our National Planning Framework and second Strategic Transport Projects Review.

“ART will provide an attractive and transformative public transport offer to people in the North East, supporting the wider investment that the Scottish Government is making in the area.

“Investing in our public transport and infrastructure is crucial to achieving our world leading commitment to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030. I look forward to seeing similar transformational investment right across the country through our Bus Partnership Fund.”

Enabling sustainable and active travel is one of the goals of the City Centre and Beach Front Masterplan.

Aberdeen City Council Co Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “The new road layout is designed to both help improve bus service reliability and reduce travel times for buses in the city centre. This will be a boost to bus passengers travelling within the city and from further afield.”

Aberdeen City Council Co Leader Councillor Christian Allard said: “The new road layouts will help to reduce travel times for buses in the city centre which will in turn encourage more people to use buses or walk, cycle or wheel to their destinations.

“As part of Aberdeen City Council’s Roads Hierarchy which is changing access to and around the city after the bypass (AWPR) was built, the new road layouts will have an important role in providing a key route to the city centre as well as facilitating the nearby bus priority measures.”