Stagecoach to launch UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in May 2023

Posted: 5 April 2023 | | No comments yet

With a capacity for around 10,000 passenger journeys per week, the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service is set to launch in East Scotland on 15 May 2023.

Stagecoach to launch UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in May 2023

Credit: Stagecoach

Stagecoach has announced that it has successfully registered the bus service that its fleet of five autonomous vehicles will be operating in East Scotland from 15 May 2023. 

The CAVForth project – a joint project between Fusion Processing Ltd, Stagecoach, Alexander Dennis, Transport Scotland, Edinburgh Napier University and Bristol Robotics Lab, partly funded by the UK government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – will be the first registered bus service in the country to use full sized autonomous buses.

Scottish Minister for Transport Kevin Stewart said: “This is an exciting milestone for this innovative and ambitious project, and I very much look forward to seeing project CAVForth take to the roads next month. Our trunk road network can provide a wide range of environments as a diverse testing ground, and the ground-breaking and globally significant project CAVForth will really help Scotland establish its credentials on the world stage.”

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A fleet of five vehicles will cover a 14-mile route, in mixed traffic, at up to 50mph across the iconic Forth Road Bridge from Ferrytoll Park & Ride, in Fife to Edinburgh Park Transport Interchange.  

The service will operate a frequent timetable with the capacity for around 10,000 passenger journeys per week and will have two members of staff on-board – a Safety Driver in the driver’s seat to monitor the technology and a ‘Captain’ in the saloon to take tickets and answer customers questions. Driver training is well underway, with 20 staff members completing training in preparation for its launch.  

Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director for Stagecoach, said: “We are excited to introduce the UK’s first autonomous bus fleet in East Scotland, which is also home to our headquarters and where it all began over 40 years ago. We are proud to be at the forefront of transport innovation with this project that marks a significant milestone for public transport and we look forward to welcoming our customers on-board in the coming months.”