Today [4 April], UK bus and coach operator Stagecoach has announced the successful registration of its autonomous bus service, which will be operating five driverless vehicles in East Scotland from 15 May 2023.
The project, named CAVForth, is a joint scheme delivered by Fusion Processing Ltd, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Bristol Robotics Lab, which is part funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.
It is set to be the first registered bus service in the UK to use full-sized autonomous buses; it will operate a fleet of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200AV vehicles and cover a 14-mile (22.5-kilometre) route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph (80.4km/h) across the Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange.
Carla Stockton-Jones, UK managing director for Stagecoach 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.”
Stagecoach expects the service to operate a frequent timetable with the capacity for around 10,000 passenger journeys per week, with two members of staff stationed on board. These will be a safety driver to monitor the technology and a ‘captain’ sat within the main section of the bus to take tickets and answer customers’ questions.
The bus operator has said it is currently training 20 staff members to prepare for the service’s launch.
Kevin Stewart, Scottish minister for transport, 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.”