Wind barriers on the Queensferry Crossing have allowed it to remain open more than a dozen times when weather would have otherwise closed the Forth Road Bridge to high-sided vehicles.
The £1.35 billion crossing over the Firth of Forth was opened by the Queen in September as a replacement for traffic using the Forth Road Bridge.
An initial assessment for Transport Scotland shows the new crossing has improved reliability compared to the older bridge, staying open 14 times when weather would have closed its predecessor to large vehicles.
Figures also show a five-minute reduction in rush-hour crossing times southbound, but no improvement in the northbound journey times.
Outwith peak periods there have been slight improvements to crossing times of up to two minutes.
Transport Scotland’s Stein Connelly said: “The wind shielding on the Queensferry Crossing is delivering the benefits it was intended to. There have been 14 occasions since the new bridge opened when the Forth Road Bridge would have had to close to high-sided vehicles.
“This improved reliability is delivering benefits for the economy, businesses and commuters.
“The hard shoulders on the bridge are allowing the operating company an improved opportunity to respond to incidents more quickly than before and ensure that traffic can use the other lanes in the event of an accident or breakdown on the bridge.
“This just wasn’t possible on the two lanes of Forth Road Bridge in the past and frequently resulted in significant tailbacks and delays.
“The most recent figures available show improvements in journey times over the last few months, since the introduction of motorway regulations, as flows have settled down and as drivers have become familiar with the new arrangements.
“Peak journey times have reduced with a time of 15 minutes being seen during the AM peak southbound which was previously 20 minutes.
“The northbound free-flow has reduced from a norm of nine to 10 minutes to around seven to eight minutes, and the southbound from a norm of nine to 10 minutes to around eight minutes. These times are closer to what would be expected for a road of this type and speed limit.”
Testing of the speed cameras linked to the bridge’s variable speed limit system, which slows down traffic approaching the back of queues at peak times, is now under way and motorists may see the cameras flash if they fail to stick to the displayed speed limit.