City centre footfall plumets by a million since August

Union Street Aberdeen

FOOTFALL in Aberdeen city centre has fallen by a million since the introduction of a series of new bus priority measures throughout some of Aberdeen’s busiest streets.

Parts of Market Street, Guild Street and Bridge Street are now no longer accessible by cars, other than taxis.

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The measures have been met with criticism online, while a number of businesses have closed or warned they’re seeing less customers as a result of the bus gates.

Now, publicly available data from Springboard shows that people of the North-east have been voting on bus gates with their feet as fewer and fewer people visit the city centre.

Between August 27, 2023, and April 20, 2024, footfall dropped by nearly 1.1 million.

In the ten weeks prior to the introduction of the bus priority measures, footfall had increased by nearly 30,000.

The data includes temperatures and weather on each given day, though does not offer any suggestion for why footfall may have risen or fallen on each given day, week, or month.

One of the cameras which measures footfall was moved in October 2022, meaning data from before then may be skewed. Between October and April, footfall dropped by more than half a million.

The falling footfall figures, along with the introduction of the new measures and the continuation of the City Centre Masterplan, has plunged the future of Aberdeen into the spotlight.

In August last year 6,689 Aberderdonian signed a petition to stop the bus gates, yet the calls for scrapping the scheme were ignored.

In January this year, more than 1,500 people took part in an Aberdeen Transport Survey with dismal results for the council. Results included:

  • Only 23% support the LEZ.
  • 90% think the current transport policies are damaging the city.
  • 85% oppose the bus gates.

Just last month a survey on the LEZ was conducted with 3,262 responses.

  • 90.7% oppose the new LEZ
  • 93.2% think ACC’s current transport policies are having a negative impact
    on the city.
  • 89.6% believe they will be less likely to visit the city centre due to the LEZ.

A number of key local businesses have spoken out in opposition and some have sadly
been forced to close or relocate as a result of the measures.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Councillor, and prominent critic of the council’s measures, Cllr
Duncan Massey said: “This reduction in footfall should be a real wake-up call for this
council administration. We are seeing the decline of the city centre in real time.
Unfortunately, they continue to ignore the evidence and the views of businesses and the public.
They seem set to carry on regardless with more of the same unwanted and failing policies and
claim nothing to see here.
I call on the council administration and transport convener, Cllr Ian Yuill, to immediately
remove the city centre bus gates on Market Street, Bridge Street and Guild Street. These
are only there under a temporary traffic order. He should also write to the Scottish Government
explaining why the LEZ is not appropriate for Aberdeen and that it should be removed.”

Independent Councillor and former Master Plan Lead, Marie Boulton, commented: “Perception can be as damaging as reality and if people trying to come into the city fearing they will end up in a bus gate or the LEZ they will look to travel to other locations such as the Shire. Sadly I worry that there isn’t an understanding of how people live and depend on their cars to be able to do everything they want to in sometimes limited situations which makes the bus or active travel impossible. I think between road closures, bus gates and the impending LEZ people are nervous about coming into the city.”

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