Significant progress made on temporary bus priority measures across south-east Scotland
Measures to prioritise public transport are being introduced across the south east of Scotland thanks to nearly £1.5m in funding from Transport Scotland.
The South East Scotland Transport Transition Group, which involves Transport Scotland, SEStran and local authorities from across the region, was awarded the funding in September from the £10m Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fundsupporting temporary changes to improve bus journey times and reliability. The fund recognises the vital role of bus services in maintaining access to services and supporting key workers and other bus users in making essential journeys.
Since then the group’s members, Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Fife, Scottish Borders, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire councils, have made significant progress implementing a package of improvements.
Interventions aim to support the bus sector through encouraging and incentivising bus travel as an attractive, sustainable mode of transport. As well as helping those making essential journeys by bus during lockdown, the temporary measures will also benefit the general public as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and travel demand increases as more people are moving about again.
Amongst the projects completed since September are the introduction of bus lanes on the A1 (Milton Road West), Edinburgh, and improvements to bus stop access and signalling across the region, including the Levenmouth area and Alloa in Clackmannanshire. In the coming weeks work will continue on several schemes, such as the introduction of parking restrictions in Prestonpans, East Lothian, to ease congestion and a pilot scheme to introduce bus stops on Dunnikier Way in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“This funding has allowed us to make several, key changes, in close partnership with neighbouring local authorities, helping to prioritise public transport around the region for those making essential trips.
“As we work to recover from the COVID pandemic and commuting patterns shift, these improvements will help to reduce bus journey times, making bus travel an attractive mode of transport as restrictions are eased.”
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity, Michael Matheson said:
“These temporary bus priority measures come from close partnership working between local authorities and bus operators in Edinburgh and the South East and it is important that Transport Scotland has been able to support this process.
“The measures put in place have helped the region to provide a better service for key workers and those undertaking essential travel throughout the pandemic and will become more important as we see travel demand increase as we transition out of lockdown. They also play an important part in gathering an evidence base for permanent bus priority measures which may be taken forward through the Bus Partnership Fund.
“While these steps will help make bus journey times smoother and more reliable, I would continue to ask people to walk, wheel or cycle where possible and plan ahead if using public transport to help manage demand. Let’s continue to think carefully about our choices, about how and when we travel so that we can keep Scotland moving.”
The challenges for bus passengers and bus operators are unprecedented. The changes are being implemented using Temporary Traffic Regulation Orders and engagement with local stakeholders is being carried out before any proposals are put in place. Led by the City of Edinburgh Council, the South East Scotland Transport Transition Group has worked with bus operators and SEStran to develop the measures, which it is estimated could reduce journey times by up to 12 minutes in some areas once traffic levels return to pre-COVID levels.
Measures that have been delivered or are almost complete include:
• Introduction of new bus lanes on the A1 (Milton Road West) westbound on the approach to Duddingston Road West and eastbound on the approach to Mountcastle Drive South – Edinburgh
• Introduction of temporary traffic signals at Melville Dykes Road/B704 Hillhead junction (Lasswade) – Midlothian
• Changed signal timings and yellow box markings at Straiton junction to aid entry of traffic to the junction from B702 Loanhead Road – Midlothian
• Temporary bus drop-off area opposite Carberry Place Asda Turning Circle, Kirkcaldy, to improve reliability – Fife
• Pilot scheme to introduce bus stops on Dunnikier Way, Kirkcaldy, improving accessibility and peak time travel benefits – Fife
Amongst the schemes which will soon be delivered are:
• A70 westbound bus lane on approach to Gillespie Crossroads – Edinburgh
• Temporary bus lane on A8 westbound approach to Newbridge from airport on-slip – Edinburgh
• Extension of northbound bus lane on Duddingston Park (A6106) northbound approach to Milton Road (A1) – Edinburgh
• Parking/waiting restrictions on Prestonpans High Street to ease congestion and reduce delays to buses – East Lothian
• Split bus stop outside Musselburgh Police Station into two stops – East Lothian
• Signage project to assist bus services exiting from Windygates onto A911 – Fife
• Changes to approaches to Shillinghill roundabout, Alloa, to improve access for buses – Clackmannanshire
• Installation of a bus boarder on B9096, Alloa, to improve access for passengers and reduce delays to buses due to parked vehicles – Clackmannanshire