Public consultation on introducing 7am to 7pm bus lanes operating seven days a week will begin tomorrow (Thursday 31 October).

Bus lanes in Edinburgh are currently closed to general traffic during peak hours (7.30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday) but the public are being asked whether they would support the extension of operating hours.

Proposals focus on improving public transport journey times, which have slowed over the last decade, with travel by bus taking longer in both peak and non-peak hours. While this is partly attributed to more people taking the bus, congestion throughout the week is also considered to be a key factor.

Transport and Environment Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “It’s essential that we incentivise public transport as a reliable, accessible choice. We aim to make travel by bus easier and even more attractive, in turn reducing high levels of congestion caused by single occupancy car use and its associated impact on air quality.

“Bus travel is one of the most efficient ways for large numbers of people to move easily around the city, in stark contrast to the space taken up by private cars. Car ownership in cities across Europe is falling as more and more people vote with their feet to take more sustainable public transport options.

“We want to know what people think of bus lane hours at the moment, and how changing the hours would affect them. I would encourage people to take part in our consultation – by letting us know what they think, participants will help us strike the right balance for people travelling in and around the city.”

Monitoring has shown that it is taking people 12% longer to travel by bus during peak times than in 2006 and 14% outside of this. Many areas, particularly routes leading to retail parks, are busier at the weekends than during the week.

Changes are intended to speed up bus journey times, encouraging people to choose public transport over private cars, reducing congestion and improving air quality.

The bus lane operational hours consultation will open on Thursday, 31 October and close on Friday 22 November, and can be completed on the Council’s consultation hub.