In a move aimed at boosting city centre footfall and providing relief during a typically tight financial period, First Bus and Stagecoach have announced that all residents of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire will be offered free weekend bus travel throughout the month of January. The bus companies attribute this initiative to the positive impact of the controversial city bus gates, which have generated savings for the firms.
Earlier this year, the introduction of bus gates on Bridge Street, Guild Street, and Market Street sparked outrage and a petition signed by thousands of individuals. Critics argued that the bus gates hindered drivers’ access to the struggling city centre, limiting support for local businesses by cutting off various driving routes. However, First Bus and Stagecoach have asserted that these measures have already accelerated journey times for over 600,000 people each month in the city centre.
In a joint statement, the bus companies expressed their commitment to reinvesting the savings derived from the bus priority measures into customer benefits. They also emphasized the goal of encouraging more people to utilize buses, particularly in January when financial constraints are commonly felt. The offer of free travel in Aberdeen throughout the month is intended to alleviate some of these pressures.
Graeme Macfarlan, commercial director for First Bus Scotland, expressed delight at providing free travel and highlighted the positive implications for individuals navigating the city. Macfarlan emphasized the importance of sustainable, reliable, and affordable transport in ensuring the success of any city centre. He also mentioned the companies’ efforts toward zero-emission transportation, with nearly 50 such vehicles currently operating in the city on a daily basis.
David Beaton, managing director for Stagecoach North Scotland, emphasized the collaborative approach between local public transport providers to secure a prosperous future for Aberdeen. Beaton stated that the initiative aimed to provide a boost to the city centre during a challenging time of the year for both customers and local businesses. Moreover, the promotion seeks to encourage a shift toward more sustainable forms of transportation.
Residents will be able to enjoy free bus travel on the specified dates in January, which include the 6th, 7th, 13th, 14th, 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th. Concession card holders will still be required to scan their cards during the promotional period. This initiative represents a joint effort by First Bus and Stagecoach to support the community, promote sustainable transport, and stimulate the local economy during the winter season.