Highland Council first off the blocks for public transport priority
The Highland Council has received the first Scottish Government Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund award of £442,855. This fund will enable the delivery of transformational change for bus travel in Inverness through the creation of two temporary bus-only gateways. This will make it easier for buses to travel on the network, improving journey time and reliability and therefore improving the attractiveness of bus travel during the current pandemic.
A new bus gateway connecting Inverness Bus Station (Farraline Park) with Rose Street will transform the way buses can move through the city centre. As well as improving travel times, this intervention will remove up to eight buses per hour from Academy Street, one of the most congested and polluted parts of the city. This temporary intervention will reduce the potential for conflict with temporary Spaces for People measures in Academy Street and contribute to improving active and sustainable travel and the place function of the city centre.
Alongside this city centre intervention, a new bus gateway from Raigmore Hospital to Raigmore housing estate will transform bus travel for the east of the city. Providing a through route from Old Perth Road will eliminate journey time delays due to congestion at peak times. Combined with the existing bus-only gate on Millburn Road this intervention has the potential to reduce bus journeys by up to twelve minutes.
Working in partnership with the bus operators, landowners and NHS Highland, the Council has now begun the process of designing the bus gateways, aiming for them to become operational within the next three months.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson said “It is important Transport Scotland has been able to support these bus priority measures, which come from close partnership working in the Highlands. Prioritising buses in these key areas brings benefits to the city centre and to people from rural areas travelling into the city, as well as improving access to the main hospital for the region.
“By providing this support for temporary bus priority infrastructure, we’re directly helping bus passengers who we know can have fewer alternative travel options – helping to improve journey times and reliability on congested routes.
“While these measures will help make bus journey times faster on pinch points, I would continue to ask people to walk, wheel or cycle where possible and plan ahead if using public transport to help manage demand. Let’s continue thinking about how and when we travel so that we can keep Scotland moving.
Chair of The Highland Council's Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Trish Robertson said: “We are proud of this announcement and to be the first Council in Scotland to be awarded this funding. It provides us with the opportunity to support people to use sustainable forms of transport in the city and region. The measures will incentivise bus trips ahead of private vehicles and will make a significant contribution to a healthy and vibrant city centre as we recover from the current pandemic.”
Stewart Campbell, Director of SRP Inverness Limited said: “We are delighted to support this initiative to deliver swift public transport improvements in Inverness. It is great news for the city centre and its people. We look forward to working with our partners to deliver on this project to benefit everyone as quickly as possible.”
NHS Board Chair, Boyd Robertson, in welcoming the successful application said “This funding offers the opportunity for us to improve access by public transport to Raigmore Hospital. There can be severe pressure on car parking at the Hospital but this can hopefully encourage more to take the bus and reduce the pressure on parking”