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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2007, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Hovercraft trial 'success' claim
Forth hovercraft
Stagecoach will now decide if the service should be permanent
More than 32,000 passengers used the Firth of Forth hovercraft during a two-week trial, new figures show.

The trial, run by transport giant Stagecoach, came to an end on Saturday.

The firm has hailed the 300,000 Forthfast service a success and will now analyse the results to see if there is a case for a permanent crossing.

Stagecoach said most of the 20 minute trips on the 28-metre, 130-passenger hovercraft were full, with an average load of 85%.

It said retailers on both sides of the Forth reported increased footfall and sales.

Robert Andrew, regional director for Stagecoach Scotland, said: "The two-week trial has been a major operational success."

Customer feedback

The company was encouraged by the morning commuter journeys, which rose steadily over the two weeks, with a number operating at full capacity.

"During the trial, we have collected a wealth of passenger data and customer feedback," Mr Andrew added.

He said: "We look forward to working in partnership with Sestran, the Scottish Executive, as well as the Fife and City of Edinburgh councils, to establish whether there is a business case to create a permanent cross-Forth transport link."

Stagecoach said a two-craft operation would cost 2m a year.

During the trial, the hovercraft service included dedicated bus shuttle links from Portobello to Leith and Edinburgh city centre.

There were a total of 22 scheduled services a day - 11 in each direction - with additional trips at busy periods.

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