Fastway (bus rapid transit)

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Au Morandarte Flickr IMG 2873 (14842630636).jpg
A Fastway bus
Transit typeBus Rapid Transit
Began operation2006

Fastway is a bus rapid transit network in Surrey and West Sussex, United Kingdom, 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, Wright StreetLite[1] and Volvo B7RLE / Wright Eclipse 2 buses.[2]


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.[3] 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,[4] of the planned 2.5 km guided and 8.8 km unguided lanes.[5] 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".[6]

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]

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.[7]

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.[8][9]


A Fastway route 100 bus in Redhill.

Route 10[edit]

Route 10 is the most frequent service on the network, it operates from Bewbush, via Broadfield and Crawley bus station, to Gatwick Airport (and vice versa). It runs every 6 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays, every 10 minutes on Sundays, and every 30 minutes during the night.

Route 20[edit]

Route 20 operates from Broadfield, via Crawley town centre, Three Bridges railway station, Gatwick Airport (South Terminal) and Horley town centre, to Langshott, it runs every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday and every 30 minutes on Sundays. An overnight service operates only between Gatwick Airport and Broadfield (it does not serve Horley), with frequencies of at least every 60 minutes.

Route 100[edit]

Route 100 is the longest route on the network, with services operating from Maidenbower, via Three Bridges railway station, Crawley town centre, Gatwick Airport and Horley town centre, to Redhill. Buses on this route run every 15 minutes on weekdays and Saturdays, every 30 minutes on Sundays, and up to every 60 minutes overnight.


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.[10]


On 31 October 2005 a Fastway bus travelling along Breezehurst Drive crashed into a terraced house. Two elderly residents were evacuated, and the damage required the house to be demolished. Four passengers suffered minor injuries.[11] According to Metrobus, the bus involved in the incident was a Scania OmniCity bus number 550 (registration YN05 HCF).[12] Another accident was reported in the same place in 2008.[13]

Passenger numbers[edit]

A survey in 2006 showed average passenger numbers during the 7-9am peak were 5, one for each bus [14] 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.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Fastway Official Newsletter 13, "1.5km guided and 5.8km unguided bus lanes were constructed" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 August 2007.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), retrieved 9 August 2007
  5. ^ Fastway Official Website 12 August 2002, "Fastway Facts and Figures, as announced in 2002" [2], retrieved 12 August 2002
  6. ^ BBC NEWS | UK | England | Southern Counties | Staff 'not to blame' for bus cost
  7. ^ Fastway - How much will it cost?
  8. ^ West Sussex County Council - Local Transport Plan Settlement 2004-05 Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Fastway Scheme is £6M Over Budget 27 July 2005[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Fastway - response to Labour's claims (Crawley Liberal Democrats) Archived 23 July 2012 at
  11. ^ Crawley Observer - Bus Crashes Into House[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 May 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Crawley Observer - Fears of bus crash couple
  14. ^ "SURVEY SHOWS JUST ONE PASSENGER PER FASTWAY BUS". Crawley Observer. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2 January 2019.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  • Official site from November 2002 on [3], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Edmund Nuttall Ltd (fastway contractor), September 2004 news [4], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Local Transport Plan Settlement 2004-05 (PDF) [5], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Fastway will use £19 million public money and £14 million private money, and will used untested technology.[6][permanent dead link], retrieved 5 August 2005.
  • Fastway protest 'snowballs' [7], retrieved 5 August 2005.

External links[edit]