Saturday April 22nd 2023
Buses at the junction of Princes Street and Lothian Road.
A plan to move bus stops away from Edinburgh’s most dangerous junctions has been branded as “worrying” by public transport campaigners.
Councillors were warned in a meeting that such a move risked violating the council’s own street design guidance and would put bus users “at the back of the queue”.
The local authority has published a list of 40 junctions across the city earmarked for safety improvements based on factors such as the number of casualties recorded, potential hazards and volume of traffic.
The top 10 ‘most dangerous’ – which include Haymarket, Tollcross and the West End of Princes Street which tops the list – are set for “longer term, substantive improvements” according to a report which went before the transport committee this week.
However, the classification of bus stops near junctions as “hazards” in the report, which suggests looking at whether stops “can be relocated” as a means of improving pedestrian safety, set “alarms bells ringing” amongst a group which represents the views of bus users in the capital.
Members of Edinburgh Bus Users Group (EBUG) spoke at the meeting on Thursday (April 20) and slammed the proposals.
Chris Day said: “Since we were set up in 2019 we feel we have had to fight to prevent bus stops being seen as a default option to be removed or relocated if there is any difficulty on the street either in a new project or in an existing scenario.
“We were particularly exercised by the definition of bus stops as a hazard, rather than an asset and the first option that is selected or identified is relocate them.”
Mr Day said this would be in breach of the council’s own street guidance, which states: ‘Bus stops should be located at or near road junctions (or other pedestrian/cycle routes) to maximise route choice to the stop. This placement can help buses enter/exit the stop without being impeded.’
It adds: ‘Once installed, a bus stop is considered a permanent fixture so should be positioned appropriately from the outset. Moving bus stops will only be considered if there would be clear benefits for passengers or the bus service.’
Mr Day continued: “Not only does it contravene the council’s guidance, it comprises a case of bus users needs being put at the back of the queue again, it clears the way for longer walking routes to and from bus stops.”
Fellow EBUG member Sally Millar said as a bus users “who doesn’t walk easily or quickly” she was “appalled that bus stops are described as a hazard or a barrier to safety rather than a necessary resource for citizens”.
She said: “I think it’s just wrong and I’m really concerned that it’s evidence of an insidious attitude creep where bus stops are presumed to be unimportant and dispensable.
“I’m already suffering as are many older people by the removal of a number of bus stops throughout the centre of the city.
“Of course we take the safety of all road users, all pedestrians, all cyclists very very seriously but we would like to see a strategy that includes both this and the needs of bus users.”
Ms Millar said the report was a “worrying warning” that the junctions review would become a “carte blanche to whip out a few more bus stops”.
She added: “Real people need those bus stops.”
Transport convener Scott Arthur stressed that bus stops “aren’t a nuisance,” but added: “We do have do get the balance right with these things.”
The report said: “40 junctions assessed have been prioritised for improvements. It is proposed to progress feasibility work for longer term, substantive improvements that can be made for people walking, wheeling and cycling at the top 10 junctions, where these are not already being developed as part of existing work programmes.”
It revealed the 10 most hazardous Edinburgh junctions as: