UK's first self-driving bus service opens to the public

Paying customers can now travel on autonomous buses travelling between Fife and Edinburgh.

Members of the public can now ride on what is believed to be the world’s first self-driving bus.

Services on a 14-mile route across the Firth of Forth get under way on Monday, travelling between Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and Edinburgh Park train and tram interchange.

In what is believed to be a world-first, the pilot service will see five single-decker autonomous buses running to a frequent timetable with capacity for about 10,000 passenger journeys per week.

The pilot, named Project CAVForth, is being run by bus company Stagecoach and funded by the UK Government.

Stagecoach has already successfully transported volunteers and members of the media along the route, but Monday marks the first day that members of the public can pay to access the service.

How do the buses work?

The vehicles have sensors enabling them to travel on pre-selected roads at up to 50mph.

They will have two members of staff on board. A safety driver will sit in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology, and a so-called bus captain will help passengers with boarding, buying tickets and queries.

The safety driver will remain on board throughout the journey to monitor the technology, while the captain will be available to answer passenger queries as well as assist with boarding and buying tickets.

The pilot is due to run until 2025.

How fast will they go?

A fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles will cover a 14-mile route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph across the bridge.

Stagecoach believe the autonomous buses will improve safety by reducing reaction times, and improve efficiency by optimising acceleration and deceleration, which, it is hoped, will deliver significant energy savings and reduced wear and tear on the vehicle.

Stagecoach UK managing director Carla Stockton-Jones said: “We are excited to introduce the UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in east Scotland which is also home to our headquarters and where it all began over 40 years ago.

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

The buses have completed one million testing miles so far, and the vehicles have attracted the attention of the world’s media.

Project will ‘help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage’

Kevin Stewart, transport minister for the Scottish Government, said: “This is an exciting milestone for this innovative and ambitious project, and I very much look forward to seeing Project CAVForth take to the roads next month.

“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.”

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