Transform Scotland’s report, ‘Warning Signs — Is Scotland moving towards sustainable transport?’, published in September 2012, sets out the challenges faced by the Scottish Government in turning around the situation on transport in Scotland. Amongst other things, the report outlines a set of recommendations on investment requirements that could be tackled by the Scottish Government, and suggests priorities for action for Nicola Sturgeon, the (then) new Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for transport.
The report sets out a comprehensive, yet concise, picture of the current state of sustainable transport in Scotland, and identifies a set of progress indicators against which we can assess whether Scotland is making progress nationally. While headway is found on certain issues (greening the vehicle fleet; car- and bike-sharing; road traffic stabilisation), a greater number of indicators were found to provide serious challenges (e.g. climate emissions; air pollution levels; public transport fares). The balance and direction of Scottish Government investment was found to be reinforcing rather than tackling these problems.
Although there has been some hopeful signs, the overall picture remains fairly bleak with increases in greenhouse emissions from transport and serious public health problems from air pollution. Public transport fares are also rising ahead of the price of using a car, and the Government’s cuts to bus investment are likely to drive people away from public transport. The report sets out some key actions that Nicola Sturgeon, the new Cabinet Secretary covering transport, will need to put in place if she is to get the Scottish Government back on track towards sustainable transport.
The report calls for the Scottish Government to fully fund its climate change action plan, and reconsider its budget cuts for investment in buses and active travel (walking and cycling). Transform Scotland also calls for investment to be prioritised on measures which can benefit Scottish transport across the whole of the country rather than the overwhelming concentration on ‘prestige projects’ which has characterised recent Scottish Government investment priorities.