A cycle of change is under way in the passenger transport sector thanks to a £3.25m initiative being driven by Borders Buses. The independent bus company, which is part of the West Coast Motors Group and operates a network of local services across the Scottish Borders, Lothians, Edinburgh, Northumberland and Cumbria, has introduced 10 new Enviro200 single decks that have been custom built by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL).
Each of the vehicles has two on-board bike racks and a top-end specification that includes wood effect flooring, leather seats, USB charging points, audio and visual passenger information systems, mobile phone holders and stop buttons at every seat, plus free Wi-Fi.
The bike buses, as they are now referred to by passengers, have been introduced following a pilot scheme undertaken on the busy Peebles to Edinburgh route earlier this year. Its aim was to determine the demand for a greener transport solution focused on reducing car journeys, traffic congestion and encouraging active travel.
The pilot scheme was so successful that Borders Buses has moved quickly to introduce the 10 new, hi-spec Enviro200s on three key routes, the X95 Carlisle to Edinburgh via Hawick and Galashiels, the X62 Galashiels to Edinburgh via Peebles and the 253 Berwick to Edinburgh service via Dunbar and Haddington.
In addition, a further 10 Enviro200s will be introduced by the end of February next year, all forming part of the multi-million drive by Borders Buses to establish Scotland’s first wide-spread network of bike friendly bus routes. Each of the 20 new ADL single deck buses is fitted with two bicycle racks and has seating for 38 passengers. They are powered by Cummins six-cylinder, low emission engines with stop-start capability and have Voith automatic transmissions.
Colin Craig, Managing Director of West Coast Motors, said: "The areas we cover include some of the most popular destinations in the UK for cyclists and our trials on the X62 Galashiels-Peebles-Edinburgh route have proved conclusively that pedal power and horsepower do work together. We very much see bus as part of the active travel solution and this initiative introduces a fantastic new dimension to sustainable greener travel. We recognise cyclists are prepared to ditch their cars for our bike-and-bus combination, all of which is great news in terms of reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions, enhancing the environment and encouraging people to jump on a bike and get active."
Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity added: "This is a welcome investment from Borders Buses and the West Coast Motors Group, supporting our ambition to build an active nation having recognised and responded to customer demand. This innovative step will encourage joined up and sustainable everyday journeys using both bikes and buses – improving our air quality and reducing congestion by creating new reasons to leave the car at home."
Charlie Miller, Regional Sales Manager at ADL, added: "Colin Craig and his team at Borders Buses have a reputation for setting the pace. This project is another example of the vision and foresight that has established them at the forefront of the passenger transport sector. Others will recognise that working in tandem, to use an appropriate expression, bikes and buses can make a significant contribution to a greener, cleaner environment and boost the tourism industry, particularly in rural communities."
Scottish Transport Minister Malcolm Matheson (centre) is joined by Colin Craig, Managing Director of West Coast Motors (left), and ADL’s Charlie Miller as the first of the bike friendly Enviro200s takes to the road.