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The U.K. unveils its independent bus service that is now open to the public

May 16, 2023: On Monday, the U.K.’s independent bus service opens to the general public, with those involved in the project which says it is a milestone for the sector. 

The AB1 service, as it’s known, travels on a 14-mile route in Scotland, between the Ferrytoll Park and Ride in Fife and Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange.

According to public transport firm Stagecoach, the route crosses the famous Forth Road Bridge and can carry regarding 10,000 passengers each week. A standard single adult ticket costs approximately £7.20, or roughly $9.

In a statement toward the end of the previous week, Stagecoach described the launch as an “important milestone for autonomous technology.” The company added that AB1 was “believed to be the first registered bus service in the world to use full-sized autonomous buses.”

The trial, which is included with the CAVForth project, will operate until the year 2025. A fleet of almost five vehicles will be involved, travelling in mixed traffic at up to 50 miles per hour.

Autonomous vehicles operate using sensors and artificial intelligence, although a human safety driver is always required. Another staff member will be responsible for tickets and answer questions from those on board.

Alongside Stagecoach, the project’s associates are Fusion Processing; Transport Scotland; Bristol Robotics Lab; the University of the West of England; and Edinburgh Napier Colleges.

A few of its funds have come from the U.K. administration’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

In the previous week’s comments, Paul Davies, president and managing director at bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis, is bullish about the prospects for autonomous driving going forward.

“We believe that automated driving systems such as the one we are trialling in CAVForth will further improve safety by reducing reaction times,” he said.

Davies argued such systems would also offer “the ability to drive buses more efficiently by optimising acceleration and revealing to deliver significant energy savings and decreased wear and tear on the vehicle.”

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The U.K. unveils its independent bus service that is now open to the public