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The history of BRT in the UK

44 years may seem like a long time – but for a totally new concept in transportation to become accepted and proven over that time on a variety of major schemes across the UK is really quite remarkable.

Here are just some of the key developments in the history of BRT in the UK.

Runcorn : Ground-breaking in its time, the Runcorn Busway was a very clever idea; a completely segregated bus system running on its own dedicated roads circulating 22km around a dense urban district with a elevated section into a shopping area at its intersection. Opened in 1971 Runcorn was the first time in the UK that an entire development had been built around a public transport system rather than the other way around. Click here to read more about the Runcorn Busway.

Guided busways : Throughout the 1980’s, 90’s and early 2000’s sections of concrete guided busways began to appear in Leeds, Birmingham, Ipswich and Bradford. Self steering and kerb guided busways had already sprung up on the continent and as far away as Adelaide, South Australia but the UK was late to catch on. Although not technically BRT systems in their own right they saw many of the features we expect to see from one including complete segregation, high quality shelters and high capacity and quality vehicles. Click here to read more about the benefits of a guided busway.

Crawley Fastway : Opened in stages from 2003, the Fastway links Crawley with Gatwick Airport, Horley and Redhill using a combination of guided busways extensive priority measures and bus lanes. Click here for more information on the Fastway.

Kent Fastrack : Opened in stages from 2006 this system has helped support the long term regeneration of the Kent Thameside growth area by providing a public transport system that acts as both a enabler and catalyst for growth. So successful has this service been that it has already drawn patronage from beyond its anticipated catchment, which has allowed the routes to be extended – with very evident increases in property prices along the corridors. Click here for more information on the Kent Fastrack.

East London Transit: Launched in 2010 this scheme uses a mixture of part segregated busways and extensive bus priority measures. A second route via the Barking Riverside development was completed in 2013. Click here to see some images of the ELT.

Cambridgeshire Guided Busway : The longest busway in the world when opened in 2011 it continues to go from strength to strength with now more than 3m passengers using it every year. Stagecoach has increased its fleet by 55% since start operations and services now operate at a 7-8 minute frequency at peak times. The Busway won the National Transport Award for Most Innovative Project in 2012. Click here to read more about the busway.

South Hampshire Eclipse : This 4.5 km unguided busway between Gosport and Fareham opened in 2012. It uses the route of a former railway line to reduce congestion on the parallel A32 between the towns. Eco friendly high quality vehicles with wood effect flooring, leather interior and even infotainment screens operate at high frequencies during peak times. Eclipse won the 2012 Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport award for Excellence. Click here for more information on the Eclipse.

Luton Dunstable Busway : Opened in 2013 costing £90m three different operators run services along its 13km route linking Dunstable, Luton and Luton airport. A key section of the route being the guided sections along the previously disused railway running parallel to the A505 and A5065, both of which see congestion at peak times. Click here to read more about the Busway.

Whats next? The future of BRT in the UK

Leigh Salford Guided Busway : Transport for Greater Manchester is developing BRT schemes valued at £122m including the Leigh Salford Guided Busway and a cross-city bus scheme. Included as part of the 25 miles of improved bus routes is a 7km guided busway due to open in 2015. Click here to read more about this project.

West of England MetroBus : Bristol City Council, North Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council are co promoting the West of England MetroBus. This £200m project will deliver three BRT routes into and out of Bristol city centre. Along significant sections of the system buses will be segregated from general traffic in bus lanes or busways. The MetroBus network will use high quality, hybrid drive, single deck vehicles, with fast boarding thanks to smartcards. The relevant permissions have been granted for all three lines, the first of which (Ashton Vale to Temple Meads) will be complete by 2016. Click here to find out more about this project.

Leeds New Generation Transport : NGT is a planned 14.8km cross-city trolleybus scheme jointly promoted by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) and Leeds City Council (LCC). The DfT awarded Programme Entry Approval in July 2012 for the £250m project, which is being taken forward through a Transport and Works Act Order. A Public Inquiry closed in October 2104 and, depending on the outcome construction could start in 2017 with the system becoming operational in 2020. Click here for more information on this project.

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) North : This project is being developed to help people travel into and between the centres of Rotherham and Sheffield via a new link road under the M1 at junction 34. The scheme will provide a high quality, limited stop bus service and enable faster, more frequent connections through the Lower Don Valley. BRT North is being delivered by the South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Sheffield City Council. It is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme 2007-13. Additional funding is provided by the Department for Transport, the Growing Places Fund from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and the South Yorkshire Local Transport Plan. Click here to find out more about this project.

Glasgow Fastlink : Scottish Ministers have approved £40m of funding for a new bus link along the banks of the River Clyde in Glasgow. The FASTLINK core route will run from Buchanan Street bus station to the new South Glasgow hospitals via Central and Queen Street stations and will be implemented in mid-2015. Click here for more information on this project.

Slough Mass Rapid Transit (SMART) : £8m of investment was announced in July 2014 for a new BRT system along the A4 which will be widened and upgraded to provide segregation and priority at key junctions. Consultation on the scheme came to an end in November 2014 with construction starting and completing in 2016. Click here to read more about this project.

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