The impressive £5.2million Galashiels Transport Interchange building was officially opened last Thursday – one month ahead of the opening of the Borders Railway – and the building opened up to the public on Monday.
A commemorative plaque was revealed by Scottish Borders Council leader, Councillor David Parker and David Houston of the Galashiels Roads Consultation Group.
The centre, which links the new railway to the bus network, as well as providing a route to the town centre, has a large waiting area, tourist information, ticket machines, toilets and showers, with a café – to be run by Born in the Borders – opening soon.
Upstairs, bus company First has moved into its office space, while there are other office spaces and conference facilities with fantastic views over the town, which are available for lease.
The building was built by the council’s development partner Hub South East Scotland and its appointed contractor Morrison Construction.
Hub South East Scotland’s chief executive Paul McGirk symbolically handed over the keys to Mr Parker after the unveiling.
Mr Parker was praised by Council convener Graham Garvie for his tireless work in the whole railway project, including the Transport Interchange, over the years.
He said: “David has worked tirelessly and passionately for most of his political career to secure the return of the railway to the Borders.
“He tackled head on the many setbacks and often strong opposition from the doubters – and believe me to witness David in full, head-on flight is a sight to behold – and he has worked closely with many professional bodies, commercial organisations and political partners over so many years, his outstanding leadership and far-sightedness has brought us to where we are today.”
Mr Parker told us: “This is absolutely tremendous.
“It’s the culmination of 17 years of hard work that has gone into delivering the railway as well as all the changes that have been taking place in Galashiels.
“It’s marvellous to be here this morning to open the Interchange. It’s a significant improvement on the transport facilities we have had in the Borders until recently.
“And it’s going to be a very important landmark building for the community which in years to come will play a very important part in Galashiels and in the wider Borders community.”
Mr Parker also revealed that an agreement has been reached with First and other bus companies about the use of the Interchange.
He said: “There was no question about that, we were always going to reach an agreement and we have done so.
“Therefore, First and other bus companies will use it, and all the negotiations around how it would operate and how much it would cost ... all that has been resolved and everyone is looking forward to being here. First has already got buses on the concourse and are starting to use the facility and they have already moved into their offices up the stairs.”
As the Interchange is such a big and bold building, it was always going to divide opinion.
While all at the official opening were supporters of the building, not everyone in the community is so entranced.
On our Facebook post earlier this week, Toni Higgs commented: “Hate the building, looks like a tin can that will reflect the sun. Why couldn’t they have just had bricks all the way up instead of the silver stuff... The cost of the building would have been better spent to benefit the community.”
And Borders Railway Objections wrote: “It is a nice building actually. Not sure it had to be that high, but if they put a heliport on top the Queen will like it.”
Editorial: page 34