Council recommends Aberdeen bus priority measures made permanent

FirstBus on Union Street

COUNCIL officials are recommending Aberdeen’s bus priority measures are made permanent next week, despite more than 500 objections being submitted to the council’s consultation.

The council’s operations chief, Mark Reilly, says the elected officials should “note the benefits highlighted by bus operators” in the report.

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It adds: “The measures will support continuing improvements. Similarly, noting the measures support active travel by way of walking or cycling.

“Collectively, the measures are a vital component of the City Centre Masterplan for establishing an attractive and vibrant city centre, with an environment that is conducive to encouraging footfall.”

Russell Borthwick, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Chamber is in full support of the City Centre Masterplan projects but is clear there is little point investing in transformational projects on one hand and on the other, supporting measures that – if the evidence is to be believed- are stopping people from going into Aberdeen to enjoy them.

“That evidence being our survey in early 2024, completed by more than 1,000 people, to establish the views of the region’s businesses and the people that work for them.

“90% said the changes to the road network have had a negative impact on their usual activities in Aberdeen city centre, 95% are spending less money in the city centre, and 85% of businesses reported less footfall.

“This was an ‘experimental’ traffic order. Has it worked?”

The council introduced the measures using an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO), which meant they only had to consult the public once they were in place.

A survey from Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) was carried out in early 2024, which more than 1,000 people took part in.

The results have now been published in the council’s meeting papers ahead of next Tuesday’s meeting of the Net Zero, Environment and Transport Committee.

The findings show 90% of respondents say the changes to the road network have had a negative impact on their usual activities in Aberdeen city centre (65% substantially negative, 25% slight negative).

As a result of the road changes, nearly four in five (79%) say they visit the city less often, while more than half (51%) say the measures impact their travel time.

However, since the new measures were introduced, Aberdeen’s main bus operators have sought to improve services and offer more to users.

Since the introduction of the bus gates in August 2023, the city’s main operators have reported improved journey times, while First Bus Aberdeen froze its prices for 2024/25.

Free bus travel was offered to everyone in the North-east every weekend in January.

This was a result of the bus gates “speeding up journey times for over 600,000 people each month in the city centre”, according to a joint statement from Stagecoach Bluebird and First Aberdeen in December last year.

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