Alex MacAuley began by outlining the work that has so far been undertaken with the project. Work started in May 1999 and the new transport initiative was developed in association with Edinburgh City Council. The transport initiative was needed because Edinburgh's economy predicted to grow and unemployment rates are below the national average. It is estimated that Edinburgh's population will increase by 12,000 by 2011. Overall, in the Lothians, population is predicted to increase by over 30,000 in the same period. Car ownership has increased by 80% since 1981 and this growth will continue. Studies have predicted increases in traffic levels of 35% in peak periods and 38% in daily car trip levels by 2010.
The Scottish Region Chairman, Simon Hindshaw (left) and Alex MacAuley.
© John G. Fender 2003
A Public consultation exercise was undertaken and a number of options were outlined. Some 60% of people supported congestion charging with an increased level of investment. By October 2001, with the Transport (Scotland) Act in place, a two-stage process began. Firstly an application in principle was made and this was followed by an application in detail.
The application was submitted to the Scottish Executive in March 2002 and the Minister responded seeking further information, which was then supplied. The Minister responsible asked that the City Council establish an "arms length" company and this was duly set up (TIE). The company had to review and develop the application and a single option was submitted on 30 September 2002, with the council submitting supplementary information. The final report was then delivered tot he Scottish Executive and approval in principle was granted on 18 December 2002.
Economic indicators show that Edinburgh and its environs will have increased prosperity but also predict growth of traffic by 25% with consequential congestion. However, the city centre is already congested and the areas most likely to be affected by the increased congestion are outside the city centre, and especially the west of the city. The predictions show major traffic growth on the main routes feeding into Edinburgh. The Scottish Executive Transport Development Plan aims to stabilise traffic at 2001 levels by 2021 and the plan supports charging schemes.
There will be a double cordon, with an inbound charge to cross one or both cordons with the charge set at £2.00 per day, Monday to Friday. The outer cordon will operate between 0700 and 1000 and 1600 - 1830. The inner cordon will be in operation between 0700 and 1830. Drivers crossing the cordons will be charged once each day, with no additional charges for further crossing of cordons on each day. There will be standard exemptions for the disabled, emergency services, buses and motorcycles. There are other groups being considered, such as taxis and city centre residents.
There will also be a city and region wide investment programme. The revenue raised from the road charging scheme will be ring fenced for transport improvements and the charging revenue will be in addition to existing investment. There will be major investment before the charging scheme is implemented, these including rail improvements consisting of Crossrail and new and improved stations. There will be four new park and ride sites, these being at Ingliston, Straiton, Newcraighall and Danderhall. There will be significant improvements to bus services including integrated ticketing, real time information and increased frequencies, with a new orbital route being a priority. In the city Centre there will be improved traffic management.
In addition there will be three tram lines and the planning for the first two has been completed. The Northern loop will run from the City centre via Leith, the docks, the Waterfront, Granton, Haymarket and back to the City Centre and be on street in the city and on segregated tracks along the waterfront. The North West line will run from Haymarket to Newbridge via Murrayfield, Gogar, South Gyle, and the Airport. The southeast line will run from the Waverley, Cameron toll and Danderahll. The North and North West trams lines will be operational by 2009 at a cost of £335 million and the South-east line will be operational by 2013 at a cost of a further £123 million.
There will be £35 million in rail investment. In addition to investment within Edinburgh there will be substantial investment in transport outside the city including totalling some £140 million. There will also be increased spending on road maintenance including an additional £7 million per year of additional money. In addition to this there is WEBS, the West End Bus System which will deliver enhanced bus services in the west of the city.
The next steps are further development of the proposals with the first orders being made in 2003. It is planned to hold a referendum on the scheme in 2004 and if this is in favour of the scheme it would be implemented in 2006.
Report by John Fender.
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