Proposed trial aims to improve bus journey reliability

A proposed trial, to be considered by Transport and Environment Committee, aims to improve bus journey times and reliability by reviewing the spacing of stops along routes.

Reviewing bus stop locations to improve reliability

If approved by councillors on Thursday (27 February), a trial will be carried out on the Lothian bus service 44 using a bus stop review methodology developed by the City of Edinburgh Council in partnership with Lothian. This service has been identified for the trial by Lothian, which has also provided a list of stops that could be temporarily closed with limited impact on passenger accessibility.

A review of bus stops was first raised by bus operators, in particular Lothian, as an essential action to be included in the Public Transport Priority Action Plan in 2018. In Edinburgh, for a variety of reasons, many bus stops are positioned more closely together than is recommended by national planning and transport guidance – approximately 20% of stops are less than 200m apart. This can lead to slower journey times and congestion.

Bus stops highlighted for potential closure have been assessed using criteria developed as part of the bus stop review methodology. These include distance from the next bus stop, accessibility and proximity to core facilities like schools and doctors.

Council working with Lothian to assess bus stops

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: 

We want to make travel by public transport even more reliable and stress-free, which is why we’re proposing this trial, in partnership with Lothian. If we are to achieve a carbon-neutral future for Edinburgh, where air quality is improved and the public can easily make healthy, active travel choices we need to encourage more people to take the bus as an efficient mode of transport.

Of course, we know how important it is for residents to have access to their local bus stop, especially for those with mobility issues. That’s why we’ve worked closely with Lothian to develop a methodology for bus stop spacing which ensures everyone can catch the bus near their home, doctor, school or shops.

Alan Black, Head of Service Delivery at Lothian said:

Lothian is committed to delivering reliable, sustainable, best value bus travel for customers. We look forward to working with The City of Edinburgh Council on the bus stop review which will enhance bus journey times and improve overall reliability across the city.

Next steps for trial

If the trial is approved by committee, officers will engage with residents affected by the changes both before and after bus stops are temporarily removed. If the trial is deemed a success it is proposed that a review of bus stop spacing is undertaken across the city, potentially focusing on one corridor at a time. This will include moving some stops to more suitable locations rather than solely reducing bus stop numbers.

As well as being highlighted as a service which is impacted by the frequency of bus stops, the 44 has been selected for the trial because it is the only service on significant lengths of its route, making it suitable for comparative assessment following the initiative.

Working with partners to develop methodology

A series of workshops involving Council transport officers, councillors and Lothian officers contributed to the development of the methodology, drawing on guidance including Department for Transport (DfT) Inclusive Mobility, Scottish Planning Policy and Edinburgh Street Design Guidance.

The review was proposed under the Public Transport Priority Action Plan, which outlines measures to improve conditions for public transport users, in turn encouraging the public to choose public transport over private car journeys.

The trial will be considered by Transport and Environment Committee on Thursday, 27 February. Read the full report, Public Transport Priority Action Plan - Bus Stop Spacing Review Trial, on the Council website.

Published: February 24th 2020