Fastway (bus rapid transit)

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Au Morandarte Flickr IMG 2873 (14842630636).jpg
A Fastway bus
Locale Crawley
Transit type Bus Rapid Transit
Began operation 2006
Operator(s) Metrobus

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 and Volvo B7RLE / Wright Eclipse 2 buses.[1]


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)

Bus priority includes this bus lane over the middle of Tushmore Roundabout in Crawley, allowing buses to by-pass other traffic.
A stretch of guided Busway on the A23 London Road in Crawley. This leads up to the bus lane over the roundabout.

Construction work began in May 2002, and was scheduled to be completed by June 2005.[2] 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,[3] of the planned 2.5 km guided and 8.8 km unguided lanes.[4] 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.[citation needed] The opening was attended by Tony McNulty MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport[citation needed], 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".[5]

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.[citation needed]

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[edit]

Bus rapid transit was chosen to minimise startup costs, and remove the need for public consultation exercises.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]


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.[6]

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.[7][8]


A Fastway route 100 bus in Redhill.

Route 10[edit]

Route 10 runs from Bewbush via Broadfield and Crawley town centre to Gatwick Airport.

Route 20[edit]

Route 20 runs from Broadfield to Crawley town centre, Three Bridges station, Gatwick Airport South Terminal and Horley town centre and station.

Route 100[edit]

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.


Sometimes, when not enough Fastway vehicles are available, standard buses have to substitute. Seen here is a double-decker operating route 100 outside Horley Library.

It has been noted[by whom?] that, while successful at reducing road traffic, Fastway has not tackled gaps in the existing public transport network, particularly Pound Hill.[9]


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.[10] Another accident was reported in the same place in 2008.[11]

Passenger numbers[edit]

A survey in 2006 showed average passenger numbers during the 7-9am peak were 5, one for each bus [12] 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.[13]

See also[edit]


  • Official site from November 2002 on [4], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Edmund Nuttall Ltd (fastway contractor), September 2004 news [5], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Local Transport Plan Settlement 2004-05 (PDF) [6], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Fastway will use £19 million public money and £14 million private money, and will used untested technology.[7], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Fastway protest 'snowballs' [8], retrieved 5 August 2005.

External links[edit]