Local bus firm Xplore Dundee is ready to take a “leap of faith” next week when it launches a new city centre service on a three-month trial.
The 360 City Circle bus will link all of the centre’s tourist attractions in a single 20-minute route, connecting the bus and train stations along the way.
Christine McGlasson, managing director of Xplore, said the firm was stepping into the unknown with the new route.
But she hopes tourists and locals alike will embrace the service during its trial run.
“This is the right time to run a service like this,” said Christine.
“We want to help people get around the city centre easily and folk have been calling out for a service like this for years.
“It really is a leap of faith though – we’re just taking a chance on something we think people will use.
“And if ever there was a time to try it out, it’s now.
“Hopefully, we can get make a big success of it – we need people to get on board for that.”
Xplore has secured the loan of a £220,000 demonstrator bus from Northern Irish firm Wrightbus for the three-month trial.
Tourists boarding the bus – which has eye-catching electric green livery featuring graphics of city landmarks – can pick up a brochure showing them the full route, as well as links to other services to places further afield, such as Broughty Ferry.
The all-electric bus can operate all day without having to be charged, running from 8am-5.30pm at a fixed price of £3 for adults and £2 for children.
Should the trial be considered a success, Xplore hopes to either extend its lease of the bus or find money to buy one of its own.
Christine added: “The fact is there is a need for this service.
“If it is successful, then brilliant – but if need be, we will look into subsidies such as low emission grants and tourism grants to keep it going.
“It will all depend on how people use it.
“We’re looking into things such as a recording played over the speakers telling people about their next stops, and tying it into tickets like Plusbus, which you can buy when you buy a train ticket to Dundee.
“It’s trying to cater for all – local people to give them the connectivity, and people coming in to discover the city.”
The Tele joined the 360’s inaugural run around the 2.65-mile route, taking in the Waterfront, Overgate, Verdant Works, McManus and Foxlake.
The eco-friendly bus – which can recapture energy lost during braking to keep the battery charged – is zero-emission, apart from a tiny diesel generator used to heat the interior.
Among the passengers on the City Circle’s first run were city council development chief Mike Galloway, North East Labour MSP Jenny Marra and local B&B owners Barrie and Olwyn Jack. Mr Galloway said: “With the Waterfront coming to fruition and becoming a reality, a service linking everything together is another piece in the puzzle.
“I hope it is really successful and does well.”
Ms Marra said: “I think it’s great – the more public transport in Dundee the better it is for getting around.
“It’s also really important that they’re using an economical bus. It’s great for the environment and I would like to see even more environmentally-friendly buses in the area.”
Barrie and Olwyn, who run Duntrune House north of the city, say they think the 360 is a “great idea”.
Olwyn added: “It’s excellent for people who come into Dundee that don’t have their bearings, linking everything up.”