Monster buses coming to Edinburgh will be the UK's biggest

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Edinburgh passengers are to get the largest buses in the UK with 100-seat double deckers to start running in January.

Lothian's fleet of 42 Falkirk-built vehicles will also see travellers alighting through middle doors for the first time in a decade to speed up services.

The buses will be able to accommodate a total of 131 passengers, including those standing.

That's 50 per cent more than Lothian’s current biggest vehicles, which can accommodate 87 people.

They are also 45ft (13.4m) long - 4ft longer than the existing fleet.

Other features on the six-wheelers include high-back seats to give passengers more personal space.

Lothian managing director Richard Hall said they would be introduced in late January, on routes still to be decided.

He said: "We are trying to create an atmosphere that feels comfortable, safe, warm and welcoming.

"We want bus travel to be somewhere nice to be that delights the passenger.

"It's the best spec bus in the UK."

The buses will be able to accommodate a total of131 passengers, including those standing.

The buses will be able to accommodate a total of131 passengers, including those standing.

Mr Hall said enticing people out of their cars required "something that really gives them a first-class experience".

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Lothian scrapped middle doors in 2009 but will be the first in Scotland to reinstate them, in an attempt to reduce delays at bus stops.

Mr Hall said: "We wanted to look at how to speed up alighting and journey times, and improve passenger flow.

"It can take up to three minutes to empty a double decker, and people can't get on and off at the same time."

The bus has 17 rows of high-back seats upstairs. Picture: Alexander Dennis

The bus has 17 rows of high-back seats upstairs. Picture: Alexander Dennis

However, he said few people would try to board through the middle door to dodge fares.

He said: "There is more CCTV and we have inspectors, so the revenue risk is absolutely minimal."

People in wheelchairs will continue to board and alight at the front door.

READ MORE: Lothian Buses chief wants extended bus lane hours to fight congestion
Alexander Dennis chief executive Colin Robertson said the unveiling of the bus at its factory in Camelon yesterday was a "momentous day" for the firm.

He said: "As a company headquartered in Scotland, building buses again for Edinburgh is a great source of pride for the employees at our Falkirk factory and we look forward to further developing our relationship with Lothian.”

The buses are the first to be built by Alexander Dennis for Lothian for seven years and the first fleet for around 20 years.

The buses can accommodate 131 passengers. Picture: Alexander Dennis

The buses can accommodate 131 passengers. Picture: Alexander Dennis

The Enviro400XLB vehicles comprise a Alexander Dennis bodywork on top of a Volvo engines and chassis.

Their diesel Euro 6 engines will comply with the low emission zone which is due to be launched in Edinburgh by 2022.

Transport secretary and Falkirk West MSP Michael Matheson said: "There was always that missing piece of the jigsaw in not having Alexander Dennis buses on the streets of Scotland's capital city."

Gavin Booth, director of passenger watchdog Bus Users Scotland, said: "Lothian’s new mega double-decker combines comfort and capacity for bus passengers, and the extra seating will be welcomed when they take to the Edinburgh streets.

"It is good to see the bodywork on these impressive new buses was built in Falkirk."

However, Edinburgh City Council opposition Conservative transport spokesman Nick Cook tweeted: "Huge missed opportunity from Lothian Buses - with these new buses offering only one space for wheelchair OR buggy.

"How can such moves give any confidence that the city council's drive to ban cars won't reduce city centre accessibility for disabled and parents."

A Lothian spokeswoman said would say only: "These vehicles meet the legal criteria in respect of the DDA [Disability Discrimination Act regulations."

The Conservatives criticised the lack of more than one wheelchair/pushchair space. Picture: Alexander Dennis

The Conservatives criticised the lack of more than one wheelchair/pushchair space. Picture: Alexander Dennis