Passengers successfully travel UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus route
The first group of passengers has successfully travelled on what will be the UK’s first full-sized registered autonomous bus route.
The 14-mile route, operated by Stagecoach, will run between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange via the Forth Road Bridge. Five autonomous vehicles will comprise the route, completing around 10,000 journeys per week and will travel up to 50mph.
The 22 passengers, who were chosen from the co-design panel of local bus users, offered feedback and advice on how to improve the trial. This included adding a ‘bus captain’ to help with passenger queries, boarding and purchasing of tickets.
The project, named CAVForth, has been partly funded by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “This is another hugely significant step forward for the CAVForth project that brings us closer to these autonomous vehicles entering service.
“It has been really encouraging to watch the project develop through the various steps, from early testing and demonstrations through to carrying of passengers along the route for the first time.
“Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant Project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage.”
Louise Simpson, operations director and CAVForth lead project manager for Stagecoach, said: “We are really excited to have reached this next major milestone in our project plan to deliver the UK’s first full sized autonomous bus, which has seen us successfully carry a group of passengers on one of the new buses. Until today, only project team members had been able to trial the autonomous service so it’s great that our co-design panel have had this opportunity and we welcome any views they have to ensure we deliver a great, inclusive, and accessible service to our customers when we launch in the spring.”
Fleur, who joined the panel through a forum for young people said: "This is something I never thought I would be involved with. I've really enjoyed having the opportunity to share my opinions and bring my thoughts forward - and it's brilliant to see it come through and become this actual thing from a few drawings.
"It was quiet exciting, the thought of getting on for the first time, I wasn't worried at all about it - you wouldn't know the difference between this and a normal bus from the driving."