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Sustainable Transport Issues by Colin Howden, TRANSform Scotland - Aberdeen meeting of 12 February 2002

Tuesday 12 February 2002 saw an interesting presentation on the subject of Sustainable Transport Issues. Colin Howden opened his presentation by providing background information on TRANSform Scotland, which has a membership of 65 bodies from throughout Scotland. He then touched on the issues that concern TRANSform, such as the increase in car growth and the trend towards longer distance travel. He advised the main mode of travel in Scotland has changed from walking (in 1985/86) to the car. However, most transport is relatively local (with 70% of all trips less than five miles, and 50% less than two miles), so walking is still the second most common mode of transport.

The key objectives of TRANSform are to (1) reduce overall road traffic; and (2) reduce the impact of the traffic that is left. The organisation does not support road-building or measures that make private transport cheaper. It supports investment in sustainable transport, and measures that "reclaim the streets", such as traffic calming and home zones. Focussing on Aberdeen, Colin outlined his views on its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, as follows:

Strengths
Aberdeen City Council's Local Transport Strategy is generally progressive good Park & Ride, and bus priorities comprehensive bus network compact city form - good for walking

Weaknesses
- City road network near to capacity
- No proper road user pricing policy
- Failure to meet Air Quality standards
- No local climate change emission reduction target
- No local rail system
- Capacity constraints on the main bus routes
- Deterrents to walking and cycling, e.g. pollution
- Inadequacies in the enforcement of road speeds

Threats
- Irresponsible local media
- The lack of a more rational debate on transport (such as happens in Edinburgh)
- Focus on "macho transport" (e.g. trunk roads and rail) rather than local transport needs
- Dispersal - loss of local facilities due to out-of-town developments pressure for road-building, threatening sustainability.
- Local government agenda (NESTRANS) too closely linked to private business

Opportunities
- Bus company to acquire increased modal share
- SRA funds for passenger rail
- Rail freight enhancement opportunities
- Re-explore road pricing

He concluded that local passenger rail services and rail freight should be promoted, improvements should be made to bus fares and passenger waiting facilities, traffic calming should be improved, and measures should be taken to make walking more viable.

The presentation was followed by a lively debate, focussing on issues such as road traffic pinch-points at the bridges into the city, and the proposed AFC football stadium at Kingswells.

Report by Marion Mackay.

 

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