The impressive £5.2million Galashiels Transport Interchange building was officially opened today – one month ahead of the opening of the Borders Railway – and the building will open 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, while a further plaque, marking the burial of a time capsule at the site, was unveiled by Councillor Gordon Edgar, SBC executive member for roads and infrastructure, and TD1 Youth Club member Dawson Little.
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 told us: “It’s absolutely tremendous.
“This is 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.”
The time capsule was put together by the youngsters from the nearby TD1 Youth Hub.
Eleven-year-old Dawson Little revealed a few of the items in the capsule which will be opened in 2065.
He said: “We put in a selfie stick – as we thought it would be quite humourous for people to find it in 50 years time, a map of Gala as it is now – we hope it will get better by then but this is a massive improvement, and a new plastic fiver from this year.”