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Poll results revealed: Hundreds say ‘anti-car’ Aberdeen is driving shoppers away from struggling city centre

More than 800 people took part in an unofficial survey on transport changes.

A blue road marking with white text reading 'bus gate'
The Aberdeen bus gates have been the source of plenty of controversy. Image: Joshua Pizzuto-Pomaco

Controversial transport policies could see shoppers abandon Aberdeen city centre once and for all, campaigners have warned.

A recent survey found that 87% of respondents believe that the council’s current policies are damaging the city.

More than 800 people took part in the unofficial poll, organised amid continuing resistance to recent changes.

And a staggering 81% of respondents oppose Aberdeen’s bus gate scheme.

Meanwhile about two thirds said they do not support a planned Low Emissions Zone, aimed at excluding high-polluting vehicles from parts of the centre from June 2024.

An LEZ sign in Glasgow.
An LEZ sign in Glasgow.

What does new Aberdeeen transport survey reveal?

Local campaigner David Laing, who organised the survey, said the results demonstrate that council chiefs are out of touch with public sentiment.

“They aren’t looking at what people really want,” he claimed.

“The administration is pushing forward policies without getting public approval.”

Mr Laing shared the full findings with The Press and Journal, which reveal:

  • Only 12% of respondents support the bus gates, with 81% opposed and 7% unsure.
  • 63% don’t support the LEZ, with just 26% in favour and 10% unsure.
  • 83% fumed that Aberdeen had become “anti-car”, with 11% disagreeing with Mr Laing’s suggestion and 6% torn on the matter.
  • Asked if they believed the recent policies are damaging to the city, 87% said yes, 10% said no and 3% were unsure.
  • 47% of people said they would prefer road and pavement improvements be the council’s priority.

Why are people campaigning against traffic changes?

If problems are not solved, Mr Laing added, “people will vote with their feet”, accelerating Union Street’s much-discussed decline.

“As we bounce back from Covid, we need to let people back into our city centre.”

A First Bus on Broad street in Aberdeen.
First Bus and Stagecoach have praised the changes. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

The first year university student, who handles press for Independent Councillor Marie Boulton, insisted the poll was independent of any outside influence.

Concerns over the effect of the bus gates on footfall in the city centre were first raised when the initiative was announced last summer.

A petition to “scrap the bus gates”, launched by Mr Laing in August, reached over 6,000 signatures amidst a barrage of public opposition to the scheme.

A sign on union street in aberdeen
A sign on Union Street warning of the impending bus gate ahead. Image: Joshua Pizzuto-Pomaco

‘Everyone thinks they are a waste of time’

Lower Deeside Councillor Duncan Massey has been a prominent critic of the council’s transport initiatives, and was unsurprised by the findings.

Mr Massey accused administration councillors of “bullying” drivers in the city centre.

He said: “It’s impacting a lot of people with cars, commuting around the town has become far more difficult.”

“Everyone in daily life around Aberdeen thinks they are a waste of time.”

Blue road markings with white text reading 'Bus Gate'
Road markings were recently given a bright blue makeover in a bid to make them more noticeable. Image: Joshua Pizzuto-Pomaco

Mr Massey told us the results are a fair reflection of the Aberdonian attitude towards the issue.

And more changes could be in the pipeline, with Aberdeen City Council aiming to fully cut carbon emissions by 2045.

Mr Massey added: “2045 is a challenging target for the council to hit, especially considering the backlash from this issue.”

Do you agree with the results of the unofficial survey? Let us know in our comment section below

You can still take part in council’s official transport survey

Council co-leader Ian Yuill highlighted the authority’s own study which is running until Friday, January 12.

He added: “There is a huge amount of scope for people to feed in their views through that, about any and all aspects of the local transport plan.

“We would encourage people to complete our consultation, to help us ensure we have a transport plan that works for all of Aberdeen.”

The bus gate on guild street in aberdeen city centre
Drivers unwittingly flouting the rule on Guild Street a few months ago. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson

It comes weeks after bus companies launched a campaign to highlight the benefits of the changes.

The North East Bus Alliance say it has reduced congestion and persuaded more people to use public transport.

You can take part in the council’s survey here, and visit Mr Laing’s version here.

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