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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 15:07 GMT
10.5m bus project comes on track
Busway
Small wheels on the side of the bus steer the vehicle
Scottish Secretary Alistair Darling has opened what has been described as the UK's longest guided busway.

Services on the 10.5m project in the west of Edinburgh will start on Sunday.

The 1.5km road is exclusively for buses which have been adapted with guide wheels to keep the vehicle on course, so drivers do not even have to steer.

The first firm to use the link, Lothian Buses, said it should slice 15 minutes off the journey from the capital's western outskirts to the city centre.

'Reliable link'

Mr Darling was very impressed with the new system and said: "This is very good news for Edinburgh.

"It links Leith, the city centre and the Edinburgh Park in the west of the city.

"It gives a fast, reliable link and if want to get people to use public transport, it's a good example of what can be done."

The busway by-passes one of the busiest and most congested stretches of road in the city and it can at the moment take a bus a good 20 minutes to cover basically a mile-and-a-half
Neil Renilson
Lothian Buses

Two small additional wheels, horizontal to the bus, run against the curb of the specially constructed guideway to keep the buses on track.

New bus priority greenways will take over where the track runs out.

The project has been designed to offer short-term help to commuters travelling to Edinburgh Park, a massive business and retail complex.

It is hoped the new Edinburgh Fastlink service will cut travel times across the capital, especially during the rush hours.

Quicker commuting

Lothian Buses chief executive Neil Renilson said: "It's going to take 15 minutes off the journey time between South Gyle centre and Princess Street at peak times.

"The busway by-passes one of the busiest and most congested stretches of road in the city and it can at the moment take a bus a good 20 minutes to cover basically a mile-and-a-half."

More than half of the money for the system was made available by the Scottish Executive.

Edinburgh City Council paid the remainder and hopes to replace the route with a tramway by 2009.

Two buses using the busway
The council plans to replace the busway with a tram link by 2009

It hopes, if the finance and legislation is in place by then, the concrete bus lanes will give way to rail lines and a new tram system for the city.

Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie) sees the busway as an ideal starting to point to solve the capital's congestion problems.

Chief executive Michael Howell said: "This is an opportunity to get things started right away.

"It's going to be in operation for five years and it's going to take about that long to get the powers and to construct the trams we need."


SEE ALSO:
Drive to boost public transport
20 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Traffic growth 'must be halted'
27 Apr 04 |  Scotland
Final stages in tram consultation
10 Jul 03 |  Scotland
Tram line on track for 2009
04 Mar 03 |  Scotland


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