Buses take off as favourite route to airport

THE number of passengers using public transport to get to and from Edinburgh Airport is soaring.

New figures show more than a third of passengers took the bus or coach last year – a dramatic increase since 2005, when just 19.7 per cent went by public transport.

Passengers travelling by private car have fallen by almost ten per cent since 2005.

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Airport bosses hailed the figures as a boost to efforts to reduce pollution and congestion.

But they played down the role of the controversial £1 drop-off charge in persuading people to opt for public transport, saying there had been no significant change in “kiss and fly” numbers since the fee was introduced in 2010.

One of the main reasons for the increase in passengers using buses, according to the airport, was the growth in Europeans arriving in Edinburgh, who were more likely to take the bus into town than longer-haul passengers with more luggage.

Public transport use is expected to increase once the tram link to the airport opens, connecting it to the rail network.

Edinburgh Airport managing director Jim O’Sullivan said: “We’re working hard with all our public transport providers, to offer passengers a range of choices. That, plus the strength of our inbound tourism market, means that more of our passengers than ever before are choosing public transport to get to the airport.”

Edinburgh is Scotland’s busiest airport, handling more than 9 million passengers a year.

Its figures for those using public transport are better than those of other UK airports of a similar size.

Luton has 15 per cent of passengers arriving by bus or coach and 17 per cent by rail, Birmingham has 24.9 per cent coming by public transport and Glasgow has just 10.2 per cent.

Edinburgh’s controversial “kiss and fly” charge brought in nearly £1.3 million in its first year of operation, but an airport spokesman said the number of cars passing through was largely unchanged. The proportion of passengers being dropped off was 23.3 per cent.

The spokesman said: “Part of the reason for the drop-off charge was to stop ‘kiss and fly’, but it was also to help pay for improvements to the forecourt, which it has done. It has cut congestion and allowed us to reinvest in the airport.”

He said there were no plans to increase the charge to make it more effective in deterring kiss-and-fly.

Other initiatives which have been introduced to encourage the use of public transport include “interactive journey planning” terminals where people can check bus and train timetables and buy tickets.

Bus services to Edinburgh airport include:

• Airlink 100: express service run by Lothian Buses between the airport and Waverley Bridge,

• Night bus N22: from the airport via South Gyle to city centre and Ocean Terminal,

• No 35: from airport to the city centre and on to Ocean Terminal with stops including RBS headquarters,

• Jet747: Stagecoach service connecting the airport with Inverkeithing railway station, Ferrytoll Park & Ride and Kirkliston.