Thursday, 15 October 2015

Fastrack: Kent Thameside’s bus rapid transit

Fastrack is a bus rapid transit scheme in the Thames Gateway area of Kent which consists of two routes. It was first founded on 26th March 2006.

Their routes are as follows:
·         Route A serves Bluewater, Greenhithe, Temple Hill and Dartford
·         Route B serves Gravesend, Ebbsfleet International Railway station, Swanscombe, Ingress Park, Greenhithe, Bluewater, Dartford and Temple Hill

Both of these services are operated by Arriva Kent Thameside on behalf of Kent County Council.

I have also extracted the map of the Fastrack services from their website.

Traveline also have maps for both Fastrack routes, click for Route A and Route B maps.

The timetable for Route A can be viewed on the Arriva and Traveline websites; the timetable for Route B is also on Arriva and Traveline websites.

What is interesting about the Fastrack system is they have ticket machines at the bus stops in order to speed up boarding times. London Buses used to have this type of system for the Central London area for the same reason. What the Fastrack system needs to do is enable the ticket machines to take Contactless payment cards which is a great way to speed up boarding, just like London Buses have done, but instead, the bus operator Arriva provides M-ticket which is a bus ticket from mobile phones which is available across the Arriva bus network. (Except for the London Bus Service which they operate.)

Below you can see the video footage taken from the back seat of a Fastrack bus. I apologise for the shaky camera as I filmed it from my smartphone.

Fastrack Route A
Operated by Arriva Kent Thameside from Northfleet depot
Wright Streetlite DF
Registration: GN15CXD
Fleet number: 4307
Filmed on 1st October 2015

More video of the Fastrack bus can be seen on my ‘Buses at Bluewatervideo.

I'd also like to mention that the bus also contains free Wi-Fi, charging points for your phone or laptop and leather seating. This is equivalent to a ‘premium bus service’, and I have written an article about those type of services.

My personal view
What I'd also like to say is that they should have middle doors which is another solution to speeding up boarding. London Buses are a semi ‘Bus Rapid Transit’ because of the fast boarding technique they provide.

Fastrack’s competitors are London Buses, most notably Route 96 which has an express section of the route between Dartford to Bluewater bus station. London Buses does not use the segregated busways that Fastrack use. If Kent County Council allows London Buses to use Fastrack’s segregated busways, it would lower the image of Fastrack’s services.

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