A serious marketing campaign has been launched to convey a £150 million transport scheme to Aberdeen that might rival Edinburgh’s trams or Glasgow’s subway system.
Discussions about creating an Aberdeen Speedy Transit (ART) scheme have been ongoing for a very long time, however ambitions have been stepped up a gear as we speak.
If accredited, a fleet of autos can be launched to Aberdeen just like regular buses, however a lot bigger, which might be designed to take passengers effectively and quickly throughout the Granite Metropolis.
It might be just like the £90m Belfast Glider public transport service, which has introduced dozens of massive purple autos to the Northern Irish metropolis.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils, First Bus, Stagecoach and the regional transport physique Nestrans are all working collectively on making ART venture a actuality.
And as we speak, they’ve revved up their efforts by saying a joint marketing campaign.
They hope to attain their objectives with the assistance of the Scottish Authorities’s £500m Bus Partnership Fund.
What would the Aberdeen Speedy Transit scheme really contain? Aren’t they only fancy buses?
On the face of it, sure, the autos proposed to be used in an ART are basically common buses however greater.
However in line with Nestrans, it could be much better for passengers than taking a standard bus.
Rabbi Dickson, director of Nestrans and former head of transport at Aberdeen Metropolis Council, stated it could be a “top quality public transport service”.
He stated: “We see it as greater than only a bus, and nearly tram-like in its operation.
“The numerous adjustments are the effectivity and effectiveness, and improved journey occasions particularly”.
As a substitute of getting common bus stops, Mr Dickson defined the proposals for ART would as a substitute contain using “bus halts”, the place the autos would cease.
In contrast to common buses, they might have “a number of doorways alongside the facet of the automobile, and bus halts that are the entire size of the automobile to encourage folks to get on and off.”
It’s supposed that the ART venture would come with the creation of raised platforms for folks to simply get on and off, no matter in the event that they’re on foot, pushing a pram, or utilizing a wheelchair.
It might use an “off-bus ticketing scheme”, that means no interactions with drivers to decelerate journey, or prolonged waits for folks to rely out their change.
As a substitute, customers would pay for his or her tickets earlier than getting on, and scan them when boarding.
Mr Dickson continued: “It stops at halts for just a few seconds, somewhat than the conditions you will get with bus stops, and in doing so it makes a journey time which is aggressive with the automotive.”
How would Aberdeen Speedy Transit work alongside current transport like automobiles, bicycles and conventional buses?
Mr Dickson stated the ART would make use of current bus lanes “the place doable”, and would have “precedence at signalized junctions the place that is doable”, to be able to get “optimum journey occasions”.
Though plans are nonetheless at early levels, the scheme might embrace devoted bus lanes only for the ART autos.
The Nestrans director sees the venture as “very a lot complementary” with current bus companies in and round Aberdeen, and stated there can be a number of alternatives for vacationers to interchange between the ART and common buses to be able to get about.
“We’re additionally wanting one thing that is suitable with energetic journey, ensuring that cyclists are absolutely catered for,” he added.
Proper now, it’s undecided what the ART will energy, however a spokeswoman for Nestrans confirmed it’s supposed to be zero-emissions.
What routes wouldn’t it take by way of Aberdeen, and who would run it?
Mr Dickson stated the ART would comply with two main routes by way of town, one from Bridge of Don to Kingswells, and one from Craibstone to Portlethen.
The 2 routes would cross over one another in the midst of Aberdeen metropolis centre.
Nevertheless, the small print aren’t but set in stone, and a Nestrans map of preliminary plans for the ART present it reaching out so far as Westhill.
The director stated: “This actually is an city automobile, it really works very well in congested metropolis conditions.
“What we’re primarily is connecting the present park and journey websites at Bridge of Don, Craibstone and Kingswells, and possibly a brand new park and journey to the south, most likely round Portlethen.
“We’re particulars like if you are going to Kingswells, ought to or not it’s prolonged out to Westhill, for instance?
“There’s nonetheless work to iron out.”
Mr Dickson stated it is too early to say if it could be operated by First, Stagecoach, Nestrans or the councils — or a mix of any and all of them.
He defined: “It could possibly be performed in partnership, it could possibly be performed by way of a franchise, or it could possibly be performed by establishing an arm’s size firm.”
If delivered as deliberate, the ART would have ticket costs that might be “comparable with current bus fares”, stated Mr Dickson.
How a lot would the Aberdeen Speedy Transit plan price, and who would pay for it?
So, how a lot would this all price, and who precisely goes to foot the invoice?
“It is one of many key questions we’re at the moment engaged on,” stated the Nestrans director.
In 2021, the associate organizations engaged on ART efficiently bid to the Scottish Authorities’s £500m Bus Partnership Fund, and secured a £2m award to develop the enterprise circumstances and designs for the fast transit thought.
Nestrans and its companions hope this work might end in additional funding which might assist get the initiative transferring in Aberdeen.
Mr Dickson stated: “We’ve got consultants on board which have been funded by way of the federal government’s bus partnership fund.
“We’re hoping to report early subsequent 12 months, however I have been plucking a determine of between £100m to £150m as a broad estimate.
“However we have to have some element about what that constitutes, what it breaks down into, what are the prices of the autos, the price of the halts, the price of the highway upgrades and infrastructure.
“However, that £100 to £150m could be very a lot within the scope of Transport Scotland’s bus fund.”
‘An actual alternative to ship one thing significant in Scotland’s third largest metropolis’
Mr Dickson is assured the ART proposals can be value whereas, and will create a public transport system that might put Aberdeen on the identical taking part in area as Edinburgh and Glasgow.
He stated: “We really feel this can be a actual forerunner, an actual alternative for working with the federal government to ship one thing significant in Scotland’s third-largest metropolis.
“Edinburgh has its trams, Glasgow has its native rail service, and so they’re proposals that are slightly bit extra long-term.
“However that is one thing that we really feel we are able to ship in a 5 to 10 12 months interval, and actually make a considerable distinction to the north-east of Scotland.”
The director added: “We really feel we can’t go, and don’t wish to go, with some type of anti-car agenda.
“However somewhat, what we would like is to supply options and choices to make folks have one thing that’s aggressive and makes them suppose — I needn’t use my automotive for each journey.”
Nestrans intends to run a session to see what the general public thinks concerning the ART proposals.
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[The £150m Aberdeen Rapid Transit plan]