Nestrans’ Board considering next steps for Aberdeen Rapid Transit

Lucy Johnston2023, News

The Nestrans Board is set to discuss advancing efforts to deliver a step-change in public transport for the North East, in order to support a more connected, inclusive, sustainable and energised region. 


Technical work has been ongoing to develop a detailed appraisal of options for Aberdeen Rapid Transit (ART). The work, funded by Transport Scotland’s Bus Partnership Fund (BPF), is an early step in the process for the development of ART and the findings will be presented in a report to Nestrans’ Board on 12th April 2023.   


Aberdeen Rapid Transit is a concept for a high-quality public transport system for Aberdeen and the surrounding area.  It is the shared vision of Nestrans and its partners Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and the other members of the North East Bus Alliance, and is an integral part of ongoing efforts to reverse the decline in bus use in the region.  By delivering a step-change in public transport, ART aims to offer a more attractive alternative to car travel for many journeys and provide better services for everybody that does not have access to a car. Similar rapid transit systems have already had positive impacts on other cities in the UK, helping them to revitalise and regenerate their regional economies. 


The vision for ART is for fast, frequent and reliable services that are attractive, accessible and easy to use, with a cross-city network of ART priority routes that connect people to the places they want to go to, including key education, employment, healthcare, retail and leisure destinations, the airport and rail station, as well as the city centre.   


The appraisal has shown that there is strong support for the concept, with nearly six in ten local people surveyed through market research stating that ART would be good for Aberdeen.  The technical work has identified that the enhanced offering provided by ART would significantly increase public transport use in the region and reduce reliance on the car.  It has also demonstrated that two cross-city priority ART routes could deliver greater overall benefits than four individual routes terminating in the city centre. 


The work has considered different operating models for how ART could be delivered, and has assessed their costs and benefits.  Future work will be needed to understand the implications of these different approaches, as well as give further consideration to the preferred routeing and interchange points for the ART corridors and services.  


The work also highlights potential delivery risks, pinpointing areas which will require additional consideration by Nestrans and the two Councils.  Alongside this, more work is needed to identify how ART can realise the significant economic, environmental and inclusion benefits that are being delivered by rapid transit systems elsewhere. 


Next week, the Nestrans Board will consider the findings of the report and be asked to approve progression of the project; to develop the business case for ART and identify the most effective way for ART to be delivered, along with the request for BPF funding from Transport Scotland to undertake this next stage of work. 


For more information on Aberdeen Rapid Transit, please visit