Edinburgh buses: New priority measures on key routes into city could cut journey times by as much as a quarter
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Bus journey times could be cut by as much as a quarter as the result of new measures planned on eight key routes into Edinburgh.
City transport bosses plan to consult on proposals costing up to £250 million for bus priority lanes, junction improvements and the latest technology which can change traffic lights to help late-running buses make up time. The programme would be paid for from the Scottish Government’s bus partnership fund.
Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “Over the last 10 years or so bus journeys in Edinburgh have become slower and less reliable. The focus here is to implement bus priority measures on arterial routes in the city – some of these routes will connect the city with surrounding local authorities. It's about making the bus more attractive by ensuring that service is more reliable, so sticking to timetable, and hopefully faster.”
The eight routes where measures are planned are:
– A90 Forth Road Bridge to Edinburgh city centre
– A8 / A89 Broxburn to Edinburgh city centre
– A71 Livingston to Edinburgh city centre
– A70 Balerno to Edinburgh city centre
– A701 Straiton to Newington
– A7 Sheriffhall to Edinburgh city centre
– A1 and A199 Tranent junction to Edinburgh city centre
– An orbital north and south corridor within Edinburgh
The objective of the programme is to reduce peak-hour bus journey times on each corridor by an average of 25 per cent by 2029 and improve reliability by reducing peak-hour bus journey time variability on each corridor by an average of 50 per cent by the same time.
During Covid, a series of “quick win” measures were introduced to improve bus priority at hot-spot locations across the region and officials say evidence shows that reducing bus journey times and making services more reliable has a major influence on the attractiveness of services and simulates patronage growth.
Potential longer-term measures which are being looked at include hard shoulder running for buses on the A1 and a bus bypass of the Newbridge roundabout on the A8/A89 route. But officials say one of the most dramatic improvements in journey times could come from new technology which can track whether a bus is behind timetable and give it a green light or hold a green light so it is not held up for two or three minutes at a red light, falling further behind time.
A ninth route has also been added to the programme – the A702 corridor through Morningside. Cllr Arthur said: “Congestion through Morningside has been a particular issue city level when you look at bus travel.”
He said that Edinburgh’s Greenways project – green-surfaced bus lanes introduced in 1997 on key arterial routes – was often seen as an initiative which had improved bus use in the city. “Hopefully this will be at least as big a step. So it'll be the Greenways 2.0 for people who remember that far back. We're talking about spending between £150 and £250 million on these schemes, but the cost benefit ratio for some of them shows that for every £1 spent, we get £13 back in benefit.”
Details of individual measures are due to be clarified over the next year or so and there will be consultations. Cllr Arthur said: “The consultation element on this will be really important, particularly working with businesses to make sure they get the benefits from it along the route.”