Council public safety officers have approved a series of temporary changes on Waverley Bridge to ensure safety and accessibility at peak times during weekends over the busy festive period.
Waverley Bridge will be vehicle-free from 11am until 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays from 16/17 November to 4/5 January. The Waverley Bridge five-bay taxi rank will be relocated to Market Street (East bound opposite Motel One) during this time and the Tour and Airlink buses normally stationed on Waverley Bridge will now operate from George Street and St Andrew Square respectively.
These measures have been planned following recommendations from the Council’s Event Planning and Operations Group as well as an independent crowd safety consultant working with the Council and Underbelly to manage the entry and exit points and the busy junction on Waverley Bridge.
Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: "The festive season is extremely busy in the city centre with Edinburgh’s Christmas in full swing in East Princes Street Gardens as well as a significant increase in shoppers and other seasonal activities. In a thriving and busy festival city such as ours we must make sure we put in place appropriate plans to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the many residents and visitors who pass through our streets every day.
“These six-hour-long daytime Saturday and Sunday closures on Waverley Bridge will ease congestion on the busy pavements and crossings, making it much easier for everyone to move around in a relaxed, welcoming and festive atmosphere.
“This ties in with our broader aims to make Edinburgh a more attractive, people-friendly place, prioritising walking, cycling and public transport.
“It’s crucial that we also maintain transport links for the people who live and work here and we have been working closely with residents and businesses to make sure these measures allow them to continue with their usual daily routines.”
A spokesperson for Underbelly said, “We welcome the decision to close Waverley Bridge during the busiest periods in the city centre. During these busy times, on Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 5pm it will allow us to make the primary East End entrance to East Princes Street Gardens on the corner of Market Street and Waverley Bridge, where crowd management controls including queuing systems will be in place to manage entry.”
The Christmas Market has been a very popular attraction and getting busier every year; weekend attendance to the market regularly exceeds 100,000 per day (highest attendance last year was c. 124,000).
The closure would be effective on the following dates; 16/17 November 2019, 23/24 November, 30 November/1 December, 7/8 December, 14/15 December, 21/22 December, 28/29 December and 4/5 January 2020.
Buses (Airport and Tour) will be moved to St Andrew Square and George Street respectively. The Tour buses will operate from those locations all day on Saturday and Sunday. The Airlink buses will only operate from St Andrew Square during the specific 11am - 5pm Waverley Bridge closure times.
The five-bay taxi rank will be removed from Waverley Bridge during closure times only. Taxi ranks (and disabled parking) in St Andrew Square and George Street will be unaffected. An alternative rank location has been confirmed at the bottom of Market Street (east bound), in the place the tour/airport buses would normally use as a feeder lane.
Waverley Mall, Network Rail and Booking Office have agreed to arrange deliveries outwith the closure times. Emergency services will be allowed access at all times.