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Programme for Government: Welcome news for sustainable transport

Published 05 September 2017 by Transform Scotland

Commenting on the Scottish Government’s announcements in the Programme for Government, Transform Scotland Director Colin Howden said:

The Government’s commitment to double the active travel budget to £80 million from 2018/19 is very welcome. With strong leadership at the local level, and a commitment to continuing this investment over the coming years, this will help to develop quality walking and cycling infrastructure in Scotland. Whilst the doubling of the active travel budget is obviously great news, it is a fraction of the £150 million that the Scottish Ministers intend to give to the most polluting form of transport by cutting ADT.”

“We also welcome the Government’s decision to increase the target for electric vehicles to make up 100% of vehicle sales by 2032. Alongside the new commitment to introduce Low Emission Zones in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee by 2020, this will tackle the illegal levels of air pollution across Scotland. Phasing out fossil fuel cars is also a significant step in reducing carbon emissions from transport, which have barely fallen since 1990.

“However, it is vital that the Government does not rely solely on a ‘techno-fix’ approach to transport. To cut congestion, get people active and deliver larger improvements in air quality and carbon emissions, the Government needs to shift its focus to public transport and active travel, rather than private car use.”

Commenting on the announcement of a new Transport Bill, Howden said: 

Different models of providing bus services may be useful in certain parts of the country. However, the test will be whether the Transport Bill does anything about the congestion that buses suffer from in towns and cities. Providing buses that are then stuck in queues of single-occupant cars is a sure way to discourage their use.

The emphasis should instead be the strict enforcement of existing bus lanes, and the introduction of new bus priority on key commuter routes.

We are pleased to see the Government take forward measures for reducing the impacts of roadworks and stopping pavement parking. The test here will be whether the proposed legislation has any teeth, or whether this is simply a window-dressing exercise.