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One week on, how are drivers reacting to Union Street’s newest bus gate?

Buses on the new Union Street bus gate in Aberdeen
Buses stopped at the lights on the Market Street end of the new Union Street bus gate. Photo taken June 30, 2022.

Union Street’s new bus gate has been up and running for a week, meaning that buses and taxis are able to drive the full length of the road for the first time in nearly two years.

Cars however are still banned from the central part of the street, between the junction with Market Street and the junction with Union Terrace.

After Union Street’s previous bus gate (which was removed in June) caused so much confusion for drivers, we went to find out how drivers were getting on with the new traffic measure one week after its installation.

The red line shows the stretch of Union Street covered by the new bus gate, compared to where the old one was, illustrated with the blue line.

Are the signs clear to drivers?

Yesterday lunchtime, between 12.40pm and 1.10pm, we counted 10 cars driving where they shouldn’t be through the new bus gate.

If all of these drivers were fined at the usual rate of £60, it could have brought in £600 worth of fines for Aberdeen City Council.

Car on Union Street aberdeen.
Several cars were spotted by the P&J driving through the new bus gate in a 30-minute time frame.

If we take 10 cars per 30 minutes as average over the course of an entire day, the council would make in the region of £28,000 every 24 hours from the bus gate.

This experiment is a repeat of one which the P&J carried out last year on the old bus gate which ran from Union Street’s junction with Market Street to near Adelphi.

It highlights that the new signage seems to be much clearer to drivers.

At that time, a total of 45 banned vehicles were spotted driving through the bus gate in half an hour.

How does the new Union Street bus gate work?

Bus drivers and cyclists are able to go through either end of the gate without any penalties.

However, when it comes to taxi drivers and delivery vehicles, it’s a bit more complicated.

Union Street Aberdeen
This car followed the double-decker bus up Union Street and through the bus gate.

They only have access to the restricted section of Union Street covered by the new bus gate if they enter through Back Wynd.

Private cars are not allowed on this section of Union Street at all.

What do the new signs look like?

Over the course of its nearly two-year lifespan, Union Street’s previous bus gate became well-known for its poor signage.

The council admitted at one point that a few of the signs were in fact wrong, and these were eventually replaced.

Union Street Bus Gate
A before and after of one of the original incorrect Union Street signs which the council fixed.

The signage for the new bus gate is slightly different.

In addition to the blue circular sign featuring a white bus and bicycle, the new signs have another black and white sign underneath which states that bus lane cameras are in operation.

New bus lane markings have also been painted on either end of the road before the bus gate begins to warn drivers about the upcoming traffic measure.

New bus gate sign Aberdeen
A new bus gate sign installed on the corner of Union Terrace. Picture by Kami Thomson.

An Aberdeen City Council Spokesperson said: “The layout and signage of the new bus gate controls on Union Street central seek to deliver a clear message to drivers of the changes to the access arrangements to Union Street.

“Signs have also been updated on Back Wynd, as this route provides access for other motor vehicles, such as taxis and those vehicles requiring to load or unload (between 4.30pm – 11am) at adjacent properties.

“We have issued social media and a media release to local press about the change, which was covered extensively.”

Read more about the new Union Street bus gate:

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