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The Fastrack logo
Fastrack bus in Dartford


Fastrack is a bus rapid transit scheme operating in the Thames Gatewaymarker area of Kentmarker. It currently consists of two routes operated by Arriva Southern Counties on behalf of Kent County Council. Various measures are used to allow Fastrack vehicles to avoid traffic, including signal priority, reserved lanes, and dedicated busways.

The fleet consists of 26 Volvo B7RLE vehicles with Wright Eclipse Urban bodywork. They are equipped with passenger information screens, voice announcements and CCTV. As ridership increases, it is intended that these buses will give way to ‘intermediate mode vehicles’, longer articulated vehicles with tram-like appearance, such as the Wright StreetCar. Flexibility is one of Kent County Council’s principal goals in the development of Fastrack, so conversion to trams, trolleybuses or guided buses is not being considered.

The Fastrack network is currently split into three fare zones, with short-hop tickets available for £1 on short journeys. Tickets are sold by the driver, but passengers can also buy tickets from roadside machines at certain bus stops in order to allow for faster boarding.

M-tickets - bus tickets on your mobile phone - were successfully trialled on Fastrack in early 2009 and are now available across the Arriva bus network.

Routes



Fastrack began operating with the introduction of Fastrack B on 26 March 2006 between Dartfordmarker and Gravesendmarker, serving Darent Valley Hospitalmarker, Bluewatermarker, Greenhithe railway stationmarker (and Ebbsfleet Internationalmarker since it opened in November 2007). It operates up to a ten-minute frequency. Services start before 6am and run until after midnight.

The 9.5 km long Fastrack A was added to the network on 3 June 2007. It operates up to every seven minutes between Dartford and Bluewater along the western side of Temple Hillmarker, Crossways Business Park, Greenhithe railway station and The Bridge, Dartford. Fastrack A is funded by ProLogis, the developers of The Bridge, Dartford.

It is hoped that Fastrack C, a circular route in the Bluewater / Greenhithemarker area, and Fastrack D, running from Bluewater to Gravesend via Northfleet, will come into service in the future.

Route changes

Route A and Route B meet at Greenhithe Station
When Fastrack B began it was divided into five fare zones. These were replaced with the current three zones when Fastrack A began, in order to simplify the fare structure and to ease the introduction of off-vehicle ticket machines.

Prior to the opening of Ebbsfleet International in November 2007, Fastrack B ran through Northfleetmarker. The diversion along Thames Way to the new international rail station, which now offers Eurostar, domestic and High Speed services, added 2 km of junction priority and segregated lanes to the network. Northfleet is still served by conventional Arriva routes 480 and 490, running up to every ten minutes.

For the first four months of operation Route A ran on a temporary alignment via Junction 1a of the M25marker to link The Bridge, Dartford, development site with Crossways Business Park. From 30 September 2007 it was diverted via a dedicated Fastrack bridge over the Dartford toll plaza and under the QE2 Bridgemarker of the Dartford Crossingmarker. With the opening of this bridge Fastrack A avoids a congestion hotspot, allowing the original six minute peak frequency to be improved to five minutes.

In 2010 it is hoped that Everards Link Phase 2 will link Greenhithe railway station with the Ingress Park housing development via a stretch of Fastrack-only busway.

Accident

On 9 January 2008 a Fastrack B vehicle was involved in an unavoidable accident that resulted in the death of an 11-year-old boy near Princes Road, Dartford.

References

See also



External links




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