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Nevis Landscape Partnership (NLP), in collaboration with Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG) and Shiel Buses, have been awarded funding from Paths for All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Open Fund to trial a new regular bus service from the centre of Fort William along Glen Nevis.
This pilot project was developed in an effort to reduce the ever-increasing congestion in Glen Nevis, particularly during the summer season when more than 400,000 people visit the glen.
The current ‘drive, photo, leave’ phenomenon affecting many ‘honeypot’ locations in Scotland increases the use of private cars and vehicles and overwhelms the available parking.
This leads to a range of environmentally damaging issues, including verge erosion and harmful pollution, and often makes a visit to the glen stressful, devaluing the Glen Nevis experience.
By contrast, this new bus service, running hourly seven days a week from May to October, will provide opportunities for the local and visiting community to experience Glen Nevis in a sustainable and low impact way.
It will stop at points of interest and will give visitors the opportunity to explore the glen on one ticket, providing a slower, more immersive experience.
Passengers will be able to sit back and admire the views or participate in numerous walks along the glen and, even better, take their dogs.
The first service will head up the glen leaving Fort William Middle Street at 7.30am and continue into the early evening with the last service leaving the Lower Falls car park at 6pm for those wishing to take it slow or embark on more adventurous activities.
The reliability and frequency of the service will eliminate the pressure of ‘clock-watching’ the car and visitors will have greater flexibility in hop-off locations than the current service provides.
Kate Willis, environmental development officer for LEG, commented: ‘As the climate and ecological crisis deepens, we need to significantly reduce our carbon emissions, and this project provides the opportunity to do this by making it easier to hop on a bus rather than getting in a car.
‘We hope that residents of Fort William will take advantage of the bus service to access Glen Nevis and thank Smarter Choices Smarter Places for funding the pilot and NLP and Shiel Buses for working with us to deliver the service.’
Fort William residents can also take advantage of a concessionary fare with a local smart card, which it is hoped will encourage more local people to sustainably explore the natural wilderness on their doorstep, without battling through crowds to find a parking space.
Patricia Jordan, member of the Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council, said: ‘The new bus service is very much needed to ease congestion in the glen, and I would like to congratulate NLP, LEG and Shiel Buses on securing this funding.’
The bus will launch its first journey on May 4 and will run daily until October 4. This project will complement the wider objective to tackle the congestion and pollution in Glen Nevis, including the installation of bike racks and shelters along the glen, funded by Cycling Scotland, to encourage cycling through the beautiful routes that Glen Nevis has to offer.
Lizzie Cooper, manager of the Nevis Landscape Partnership, said: ‘It’s great to be working with LEG and Shiel Buses to provide this pilot service. I hope it will be well used by locals and visitors and that the feedback from passengers can inform future service improvements up Glen Nevis.’