New campaign to encourage changes in how people get around the city centre to tackle climate change

Lucy Johnston2023, News

Early improvements of the bus priority measures include reduction in congestion, improved punctuality and increased passenger numbers

Aberdeen’s new bus priority measures are reducing pollution and congestion in the city centre, and slashing journey times by 25% according to the North East Bus Alliance.

The alliance says that “more people taking the bus, more often” will make an even bigger difference to emissions given that one double decker bus takes up to 75 cars off the road.

The new statistics come as the alliance launches a campaign to encourage people to make small changes in how they get around the city centre that will have a big impact on emissions and air quality.

The campaign will provide easy to understand communication about the new bus priority measures in one place – www.getabout.org.uk

The bus gates are the first steps towards quicker, greener, cheaper and safer transport in and around the city. They also pave the way for broader, longer-term transport solutions, including Aberdeen Rapid Transit, that will help in the fight against climate change and support the ambition for an attractive and vibrant city through the city centre masterplan.

Over 600,000 bus passengers every month, on both First Bus and Stagecoach services, are seeing journey times reduced by up to 25%, as well as an improvement in punctuality and reliability.

Robert Andrew, chair of the North East Bus Alliance, said the new campaign addressed the feedback from citizens and businesses that information about the bus gates needed to be easier to find and understand.

“Sustainable, reliable and affordable transport can unlock the city centre’s potential – making it easier for people and goods to get around and reducing traffic congestion and pollution. This, in turn, will lead to a more pleasant and welcoming place in which to live, work, shop, relax and socialise,” he said.

“If we are to compete with other cities in the UK and Europe, tackle the unsustainable growth in traffic and not store up greater problems for ourselves in the future, we must act now.

“This is why we have introduced the bus gates, the success of which depends on everyone understanding how they work and making small changes to the ways in which they get about town.

“We will be providing information to help everyone – whatever their mobility and whether they are bus users, motorists, cyclists or pedestrians – navigate their way around the city centre confidently, safely and more sustainably.”

Stagecoach and First Aberdeen have already invested in 84 new zero-emissions buses, providing a much greener service which is both comfortable and reliable.

Both bus operators continue to gather data on improved journey times and punctuality to make the case for potential new services and increased frequencies.

Duncan Cameron from First Aberdeen has said they have seen an improvement in punctuality, with a 25% improvement in buses starting their journeys on time, helping to ensure that 95% of all services are now operating on time thanks to the new bus priority measures.

“The bus priority measures have already helped us to provide a better service to passengers. We’ve seen a 10% rise in passenger numbers. More people taking the bus, more often, will lead to a better service with greater frequency, more reliability and reduced journey times,” he said.

“Giving priority to buses in the city centre improves traffic flow, reduces pollution and takes away barriers that deter people from making the change to public transport. To help support this, we’ve launched a special 50% off ticket offer to encourage more people to use the bus and benefit from the improvements we are all seeing.

“We are predicting journey time savings on the services benefiting from the bus priority of up to 25%. Those further savings will be reinvested into our services, encouraging more people to use the bus and helping to increase footfall in the city centre.

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 end.

Daniel Laird from Stagecoach said: “Across our Aberdeen City network, we’ve observed an average uplift of passenger numbers by 5% since the bus priority measures went live. We’ve also seen a reduction of 10% in the time taken to cross the city centre on service 59, which connects key destinations such as Northfield, Balnagask, and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

“With fewer buses being held up unnecessarily in city centre traffic, bus journey times are 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.”

The campaign information can be found at www.getabout.org.uk