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Warning over slow bus journey times as Forth Road Bridge re-opens

The Forth Road Bridge
The Forth Road Bridge

Bus journey times over the Forth will see little improvement because of the Scottish Government’s failure to deliver promised upgrades, say campaigners.

The Forth Road Bridge re-opens exclusively for buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians on Thursday.

Transform Scotland said the lack of investment for public transport in the surrounding areas of the 1964 bridge is hampering the effort to speed up buses.

The group said that just three of the Scottish Government’s schemes close to the bridge had been completed, with 15 more unfinished or shrouded in doubt.

Among the projects highlighted by Transform Scotland as making inadequate progress was Rosyth Park and Choose and improved public transport links to the M90 at the Masterton and Admiralty junctions.

Colin Howden, the director of the sustainable transport pressure group, said although it is welcome the FRB is being used as a “public transport corridor”, more needs to be done.

“Bus journey times into Edinburgh won’t improve significantly until public transport priority is put in place at either end of the bridge and not just on the bridge itself,” he said.

“Unfortunately, most of the major commitments made by Transport Scotland towards public transport investment have not materialised.”

Alex Rowley, a Labour MSP in Fife, said: “If the government are serious about getting people out of cars and onto public transport, they will have to follow through on their promises and build on what has been put in place”.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said there has been a raft of interventions to improve the public transport system.

“These include several measures for buses, such as the ability to utilise the hard shoulder to bypass slow moving traffic on sections of the motorway both north and south of the Forth, delivery of Halbeath Park and Ride, which opened in 2013 and now has around 90 per cent occupancy,” he said.

“Significant investment has been made through the Forth Replacement Crossing project to provide greater reliability for buses.

“This will be further strengthened by the introduction of the Public Transport Corridor and the full implementation of the managed crossing strategy.”

Marking the re-opening of the bridge for public transport, Humza Yousaf, the transport minister, said: “It is tremendously satisfying to see our vision for a managed, dual-bridge strategy come to pass just over nine years after it was first announced”.

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