Fastway is a bus rapid transit network linking Crawley with Gatwick Airport and Horley, the first to be constructed outside a major city. It uses specially adapted buses that can either be steered by the driver or operate as "self steering" guided buses along a specially constructed track. Fastway is operated by Metrobus, using Scania OmniCity buses.
Fastway aims to improve bus services in the Crawley, Gatwick and Horley area. The project included construction of new bus lanes, including guided bus lanes, construction of new bus waiting shelters and provision of electronic real-time passenger information and a fleet of new low-floor buses for Metrobus (part of the Go Ahead Group)
Construction work began in May 2002, and was scheduled to be completed by June 2005. In October 2006, major work stopped, having completed around 60% of the planned work - 1.5 km guided and 5.8 km unguided bus lanes were constructed, of the planned 2.5 km guided and 8.8 km unguided lanes. The planned 24 traffic lights and 11 roundabouts were changed to 40 traffic lights and 2 roundabouts.
Phase 1 (Service 10) commenced in September 2003 between Bewbush and Gatwick, £50,000 over budget and four months behind schedule. The opening was attended by Tony McNulty MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, and local dignitaries. The service was extended from 21 to 24-hour operation in May 2004 and now runs every 7 minutes during the day and every 20–30 minutes in the early morning, evening and Sunday.
In July 2005 the project was more than £6 million over budget. An independent inquiry was launched to investigate the losses, led by a task force from East Sussex County Council. The results of the inquiry were published in December 2005. ESCC concluded West Sussex had shown a pattern of "ineffective accountability, complacency, ineffective risk management and a lack of clear ownership of the financial management responsibilities".
On 27 August 2005 Fastway service 20 was introduced, running between Broadfield, Three Bridges, Manor Royal, Gatwick Airport, Horley and Langshott. On Mondays to Saturdays it runs every 20 minutes during the day, and every 30 minutes in the early morning and late evening and Sunday.
As a result of Phase 1 of Surrey County Council's Bus Review, routes 20 and 100 were slightly revised from 28 August 2010. Route 20 was extended at Langshott to the new housing development, The Acres. The route stopped serving Gatwick Airport North terminal but was diverted to serve Horley railway station interchange, as well as operating via a circular route at Broadfield. These changes enabled the route to be run with one less bus, and thus save money. Route 100 was extended to serve the Park 25 housing development in Redhill. The timetables were revised on both routes. The new timetable on route 20 was not very reliable, and so a new timetable was introduced from 12 February 2010. To save time, the route stopped serving Horley station interchange. There had also been problems with illegally parked cars blocking access and usage being lower than expected. Train passengers are not adversely affected as the route serves the main station entrance anyway.
Decision making process
Bus rapid transit was chosen to minimise startup costs, and remove the need for public consultation exercises. Fastway is the first bus rapid transit system in the world to be built outside a major city by a partnership of local authorities and private companies with automatic vehicle location, pre-trip and in-trip passenger information and automatic traffic signal priority from the start.
In June 2002 the official Fastway website was updated to show a cost of £27 million, with just under £10 million provided by the government.
In September 2003, the Go-Ahead group withdrew their £3 million commitment to the project. The government increased its contribution to cover this as well as other rising costs, raising its contribution to £16.642 million.
Route 10 runs from Bewbush via Broadfield and Crawley town centre to Gatwick Airport.
Route 20 runs from Broadfield to Crawley town centre, Three Bridges station, Gatwick Airport South Terminal and Horley town centre and station.
Route 100 operates from Maidenbower to Redhill via Three Bridges Station, Crawley town centre, Gatwick Airport and Horley town centre.
The Fastway project was promoted and funded by a public-private partnership. The consortium included West Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council, Crawley Borough Council, Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, BAA Gatwick, British Airways. There is also support from the UK Department for Transport.
The project initially included a £3 million contribution by Metrobus, the bus operator, and its parent company, the Go-Ahead Group, but this was withdrawn after construction had started, and the money was replaced by West Sussex County Council.
The projected cost started at £27 million and was later revised to £32 million, then £35 million, with between £7.5 and £10 million from West Sussex County Council. The final cost of the scheme is still unknown, but has risen from the original estimates and was described as £6 million over budget
Metrobus has stated that passenger figures are up 10%, with 35% of journeys being to and from Gatwick. One million passengers were carried in the first seven months of operation.
At 7.40 a.m. on 31 October 2005 a Fastway bus traveling along Breezehurst Drive crashed into the ground floor of a terraced house. Two elderly residents were evacuated, and the damage required the house to be demolished. Four passengers suffered minor injuries. Another accident was reported in the same place in 2008.
- List of guided busways and BRT systems in the United Kingdom
- List of bus operators of the United Kingdom
- Fastrack - similar sized but unguided scheme in north-west Kent
A survey in 2006 showed average passenger numbers during the 7-9am peak were 5, one for each bus  By 2008 as the system became established the West Sussex County Council indicated that bus use in Crawley had increased by 25% following quality improvements.
- Fastway Official Newsletter 13, "1.5km guided and 5.8km unguided bus lanes were constructed" , retrieved 9 August 2007
- Fastway Official Website 12 August 2002, "Fastway Facts and Figures, as announced in 2002" , retrieved 12 August 2002
- BBC NEWS | UK | England | Southern Counties | Staff 'not to blame' for bus cost
- Fastway - How much will it cost?
- West Sussex County Council - Local Transport Plan Settlement 2004-05
- Fastway Scheme is £6M Over Budget 27 July 2005
- Fastway - response to Labour's claims (Crawley Liberal Democrats)
- Crawley Observer - Bus Crashes Into House
- Crawley Observer - Fears of bus crash couple
- "SURVEY SHOWS JUST ONE PASSENGER PER FASTWAY BUS". Crawley Observer. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
- Official site from November 2002 on Archive.org , retrieved 5 August 2005.
- Edmund Nuttall Ltd (fastway contractor), September 2004 news , retrieved 5 August 2005.
- Local Transport Plan Settlement 2004-05 (PDF) , retrieved 5 August 2005.
- Fastway will use £19 million public money and £14 million private money, and will used untested technology., retrieved 5 August 2005.
- Fastway protest 'snowballs' , retrieved 5 August 2005.
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