Edinburgh 'driverless' bus service to launch in spring in 'world first' with automated 14-mile route

‘World first’ as self-driving bus service to launch in Edinburgh this spring
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The “world’s first” full-sized driverless bus service is launching in Edinburgh this spring. The automated bus service will run along a 14-mile route from Fife to Edinburgh, as part of a £10.4 million combined UK Government and industry funded project.

Stagecoach will run the service, which will will cover a 14-mile route in mixed traffic at up to 50mph across the Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange. It will operate a frequent timetable with the capacity for around 10,000 journeys per week, Stagecoach says.

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The new service aims to “revolutionise” public transport and passenger travel to “better connect rural communities” and “reduce road collisions caused by human error”. The buses will run on a “captained basis” with two members on board to monitor the autonomous system and be available to assist passengers. The project will also feature test track-based demonstrations where no safety driver will be on board with a view to assessing passenger experience.

The 'world's first' self-driving bus is launching in Edinburgh this yearThe 'world's first' self-driving bus is launching in Edinburgh this year
The 'world's first' self-driving bus is launching in Edinburgh this year

The new buses have been trialled since last spring in a project called CAVForth, and successfully transported a group of 22 passengers earlier this month. Among them was Fleur, who said: “It was quite exciting, the thought of getting on for the first time, I wasn't worried at all about it - you wouldn't know the difference between this and a normal bus from the driving.”

‘A massive opportunity’

Business Secretary Grant Shapps said: “In just a few years’ time, the business of self-driving vehicles could add tens of billions to our economy and create tens of thousands of jobs across the UK. This is a massive opportunity to drive forward our priority to grow the economy, which we are determined to seize.

“The support we are providing today will help our transport and technology pioneers steal a march on the global competition, by turning their bright ideas into market-ready products sooner than anyone else.”

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Transport Secretary Mark Harper said self-driving vehicles will “positively transform people’s everyday lives” by making it easier to get around, access vital services and improve regional connectivity. While UK Government Minister for Scotland John Lamont said: “It’s terrific to be able to talk about a transport world first for Scotland. I look forward to seeing the first self-driving buses crossing the Forth Bridge with the support of UK Government funding, demonstrating our determination to encourage innovative technologies that can boost the economy and create skilled jobs.

“It’s also great to see Scottish innovation at the forefront of developing hydrogen-powered vehicles. This is further evidence of the UK Government’s commitment to utilising hydrogen as a secure, clean and affordable long-term energy source.”