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North-east MSP calls for halt to Aberdeen bus re-route over safety concerns

Liam Kerr MSP and the Braeside and Mannofield Community Council have raised concerns about a new bus route.
Liam Kerr MSP and the Braeside and Mannofield Community Council have raised concerns about a new bus route.

A north-east MSP has raised concerns about the safety of a new bus route in Aberdeen.

First Aberdeen recently announced a change to its number 15 service which means it will re-route onto the narrow Countesswells Road from July 3.

However, MSP Liam Kerr wants to halt the change due to fears cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders will be knocked down by oncoming vehicles.

Mr Kerr, who is a keen cyclist himself, has shared constituent’s concerns about the tight bends and frequently flooded gullies on the road, as well as the lack of visibility and pavements.

Alongside the Braeside and Mannofield Community Council, he has written to First Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council about the upcoming change, which will create a transport link for a new housing development and Aldi store.

MSP Liam Kerr has written to Aberdeen City Council about the new bus route. Picture by Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

The community council has highlighted that the supermarket opening will increase traffic in the area, and that buses will be unable to safely follow the updated Highway Code as they are too wide for the road.

‘A huge safety concern’

Mr Kerr has said many residents have shared their concerns with him about the “disastrous” service 15 re-route.

He said: “The road is extremely narrow and has tight bends which makes it completely unsuitable for buses to use.

“In addition, the volume of traffic will continue to increase due to the new housing development as well as the opening of the nearby Aldi supermarket next month.

“All of this presents huge safety concerns for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders from Hayfield Equestrian Centre who often have to use the route.

“This is exactly why I, along with the community council, are calling for a site visit which would allow us to present these issues and make a case for re-routing the service onto the A944 Queens Road Corridor.”

Further assessments

This is not the first time Mr Kerr has brought attention to road safety concerns in the area, having written to the council in January 2021 to request a speed limit re-assessment.

In response, Aberdeen City Council has confirmed the revised service 15 route will go ahead from Sunday, July 3 as planned.

Conservative MSP Liam Kerr, a keen cyclist, is worried about the lack of visibility on Countesswells Road.

A council spokesman said: “First Aberdeen have confirmed to us that this route has been assessed and trailed by their safety teams and has been found to be suitable.

“Following feedback from the MSP and local community council, we are further assessing the route and considering whether any measures may be required.”

In its letter to First Aberdeen, the community council said it “failed to be convinced” that the rural part of the route is safe.

They wrote: “The introduction of single decker buses on this part of the route compromises the safety of other road users for the reasons explained in the letter.

“With the changes due on July 3, we ask that you suspend this until a full assessment of that part of the route is carried out and the safety of other road users can be demonstrated.”

‘Monitoring every aspect’

The bus company said that testing had been carried out in advance of the route being confirmed.

Duncan Cameron, the managing director of First Bus Scotland, said: “First Bus places the safety of its staff, customers and all road users at the heart of everything we do as part of our role in keeping communities connected across the city.

The 15 service from First Aberdeen will re-route onto Countesswells Road, and no longer service Beach Retail Park from Sunday. Picture by Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

“Whenever we look at serving new areas, we take into account the layout and suitability of existing roads to make sure that all aspects of any route extension are appropriate for the operation of a bus service.

“This is exactly what we’ve done prior to confirming the extension of service 15, having conducted route testing with single decker vehicles.

“The conclusion of this testing identified that the route extension and roads to be used are suitable for safe bus operation using single decker vehicles, and we’re therefore confident that service 15 will be very much welcomed by the communities that will benefit from the route’s extension to Countesswells.

“As with the running of any new bus route, we will be monitoring every aspect of its operation closely to make sure that the service is safe for staff, customers and other road users alike.”

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