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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
17 May 2023
The UK’s first driverless bus service begins in Edinburgh

Transport minister Kevin Stewart launched the service last week | Alamy

The UK’s first driverless bus service begins in Edinburgh

The UK’s first full-size self-driving bus service has begun 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 autonomous technology in a real-world environment.

Five buses will cover the 14-mile route in mixed traffic and at up to 50mph over the two years.  

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.”   

Ray O’Toole, executive chairman for Stagecoach said: “This is an incredibly exciting time, and we are delighted to see the hard work of all partners involved, pay off on the official launch by transport minister Kevin Stewart.  

“We are proud to be at the forefront of transport innovation with this project, marking a significant milestone for public transport and we look forward to welcoming our customers on board.”

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