A vision for public transport in the North East of Scotland

Nestrans and its partners Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and the North East Bus Alliance, are working to develop the concept of a rapid transit system. 

It is our aim for Aberdeen Rapid Transit (ART) to deliver a next-generation transport system, helping establish the North East of Scotland as a revitalised, inclusive, sustainable and better-connected place in which to live, work, study and visit. 

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Image showing network map of indicative cross-city links connecting Aberdeen and surrounding areas.

Image showing network map of indicative cross-city links connecting Aberdeen and surrounding areas.

We aspire for ART to provide fast, frequent and reliable services. This could be achieved through a combination of dedicated bus lanes, off board fare collection, fast and efficient boarding and alighting. It is our aim for ART to provide high-capacity and high-quality vehicles, and journey times competitive to car, to provide an attractive way to travel, being accessible and easy to use.   

Our vision is for a cross-city network of ART priority routes that connect people to the places they want to go to: key education, employment, healthcare, retail and leisure destinations; the airport and rail station, as well as the city centre. 

ART is an important part of the partners’ ambitions for the region’s transport system, as set out within Nestrans’ Regional Transport Strategy (RTS).  

ART aims to provide a new and innovative transport solution that is fully integrated with the wider transport network, enabling benefits to be felt across the region, and to users of other transport modes too.   

We are working with a range of partners, including Scottish Government, to develop the vision and explore funding options that would enable delivery of ART.  If funding becomes available, we would aim for ART to be implemented over the next five to ten years.  

More than ‘just a better bus service’

For ART to deliver its potential for North East Scotland, it needs to be more than ‘just a better bus service’.

Our aspiration to develop a rapid transit system has followed extensive research and analysis of successful schemes in other citiesRapid transit systems exist across the world and have a range of different characteristics, but share common elements; they are fast, reliable, comfortable and easy to use.   

In the UK, rapid transit systems operate in Belfast (Glider) and Bristol (Metrobus) and are being developed for the West Midlands (Sprint); each designed as an integral part of the transport network in these regions.  More information on these systems and their features can be found in the Useful links section below, and you can read about the benefits of these systems here. 

Illustration showing an ART bus stopped at a bus stop. The vehicle looks modern, is multi-doored and with level access. A bus lane is visible on the road in front. People are waiting at the bus stop. The bus stop consists of comfortable seating, shelter, a digital display showing real time bus arrival times and a digital ticket machine for purchasing tickets before boarding.

Across Scotland, other city regions are also developing their own ambitious plans for public transport enhancement.  Our aspirations are on a par with those, with the proposed solution of ART the right fit for the needs and circumstances of North East Scotland.  

ART would complement and enhance the wider public transport network. By investing in the infrastructure to support ART, we expect that many of the region’s other bus services would also become faster and more reliable. This would go alongside other ongoing investment in public transport, including the introduction of the world-leading hydrogen bus fleet and the Grasshopper multi-operator bus ticket. 

Alongside significant enhancement of public transport provision, we aspire for ART to support the rebalancing of streets in favour of people, and the creation of high-quality public spaces that people want to visit and spend time in.  ART would be developed in collaboration with other major investments; including the exciting changes happening in the city centre, market and beachfront. 

The journey so far and next steps 

The concept of ART was developed in Nestrans’ RTS, finalised in 2021.   

The Scottish Government’s £500 million programme, the Bus Partnership Fund (BPF), enables local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to bid for investment in ambitious schemes to improve public transport journey times and reliability. 

In 2021, Nestrans and its North East Bus Alliance partners submitted a bid to BPF with £12 million awarded to date (£10 million for South College Street bus priority enabling works and £2 million to develop the business cases and designs for ART).  We hope that this work results in continued funding which would enable delivery of ART, subject to formal approval by Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council committees. 

Image showing anticipated process and timeline for development and delivery of ART

It is essential that we complete detailed planning to understand how ART could be implemented so it best meets local needs. Much work is already underway through several transport corridor studies, led by Aberdeen City Council. These are working to identify opportunities for improvements to transport on the main routes in the city, including the corridors that the RTS identified as being potential routes for ART. Part of their remit is to assess potential locations at which improvements could be made for bus priority, and it is hoped that they can propose solutions which will enable the effective operation of ART services as well as benefit existing bus travel.

Throughout 2022 and 2023, work will be progressed to understand how ART may work best for the region, and we will need your input to this.

Learnings from other BRT systems

Further Information

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