Scottish secretary Alistair Darling launched the link between Leith, the city centre and the Edinburgh Park business and retail site. However, the Edinburgh Fastlink system is seen as a short-term measure and will be ripped up by 2009 to make way for a full-scale tram network.
At peak times 12 buses an hour will operate on Fastlink. Lothian Buses estimates that the initiative will cut 20 minutes off journeys between Edinburgh Park and Princes Street. "The busway bypasses one of the busiest and most congested stretches of road in the city," said chief executive Neil Renilson.
The local authority's transport arm, Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, hopes the system will provide an alternative to the car if tolls are introduced in 2006.
Transport minister Nicol Stephen said: "I am certain that many car drivers will use this high-quality service to beat the traffic jams. It will provide access to a growing business area as well as target some of the worst congestion in the city."