Self-driving buses begin operation in Edinburgh

Written by Ruaraidh Gilmour on 19 May 2023 in News

Vehicles will travel on the roads of the Scottish capital at speeds of up to 50mph

Credit: Stagecoach

The UK’s first full-size self-driving bus service has begun operating in Edinburgh this week.   

The autonomous vehicles, which are operated by Stagecoach, are running between the Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange.

Although the service is branded as autonomous there are still two members of staff on board; one who sits in the driver's seat to ensure the technology is operating correctly and a ‘bus captain’ who assists passengers with boarding and buying tickets, while also demonstrating to passengers what a full-size autonomous bus might feel like in the future.  

The trial will run until 2025 and Stagecoach believe that transporting 10,000 passengers per week on the new service will demonstrate the viability of autonomous technology in a real-world environment. Five buses, each of which has space for 42 passengers, will cover the 14-mile route in mixed traffic and at up to 50mph.  

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This pilot phase is backed by £5.2m of public money awarded via the government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles. The same amount will be provided from industry partners, which include Stagecoach and bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis. Edinburgh Napier University and the University of the West of England are also supporting the project.

Scottish Government transport minister Kevin Stewart, who launched the service last week, said: “It is really exciting to see the innovative and ambitious CAVForth Project take to the roads in earnest after all the hard work of the partner organisations involved in bringing this world first to Scotland. We want Scotland to continue to be at the forefront in the development of Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and the start of this live trial will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage. I am excited to see how this technology can help to support our vision for a sustainable, inclusive, safe and accessible transport system.”   


About the author

Ruaraidh Gilmour is a reporter at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where a version of this story first appeared. He tweets as @Ruaraidh0.


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