LOTHIAN Buses has pledged to keep the impact of a city-wide 20mph speed limits roll-out “under review” as it comes into force this summer.
Controversial council plans, set to cost £2.22 million, will affect around 80 per cent of the Capital’s roads when they are brought in from July onwards.
But critics insist the proposals will see the city “grind to a halt” – increasing congestion and journey times and impacting on road safety.
A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “We are supportive of any measures which will improve the overall safety on the roads of Edinburgh, however, we will be keen to ensure that bus journey times do not increase for our passengers.
“We don’t anticipate any significant impact but will keep the situation under review.” The company, which is almost entirely owned by the city council, previously warned imposing a 20mph speed limit across the Capital could lead to higher fares and poorer services.
In response to an early council consultation in 2013, it said: “We are particularly concerned to emphasise that 20mph limits should not be introduced on bus routes, except in very localised applications (such as Moredun). This is because measures which tend to increase overall bus journey times tend also to undermine the economics of the provision of the affected bus services.
“Ultimately this leads to higher fares, lower levels of service or increased calls on public subsidy. Such outcomes do not act in support of encouraging the use of public transport.”
Tory transport spokesman Nick Cook said the impact on buses was one of the “prime concerns” and insisted it was vital to keep the city moving.
He said: “Thousands of people rely on Lothian Buses to get to and from work and it’s vital to the Edinburgh economy that the city can function as well as possible.”
Edinburgh’s 20mph roll-out is the first of its kind in Scotland and will be implemented in six stages over 24 months, starting with the city centre.
However, key arterial routes in the suburbs – such as Ferry Road, St John’s Road and Telford Road – will keep their current limits.
The Federation of Small Businesses argues the move will force drivers to use out-of-town shopping centres as well as making it “very difficult for businesses to get around and do their job”.
But community leaders around the Meadows, one the city centre’s most residential areas – and among the first to see the new rules imposed – hailed the scheme, insisting it will boost road safety.
Green councillor Steve Burgess said Melville Drive was “a classic example of a road which is crying out for a safer speed limit”.
He said: “Almost all the local residential streets are already 20mph so reducing the speed on Melville Drive makes things easier and more consistent for drivers as well. So I predict that within weeks of 20mph being introduced there, people will wonder why it was ever more than that.”
Heather Goodare, convener of Friends of the Meadows and Bruntsfield Links, added: “It’s just nice in a pleasant park area not to have traffic charging through. “I know there are people who object to the 20mph limit, but I don’t personally know anybody who does.”