JOURNEY times for buses using Greenways have increased by up to 18 minutes in the past decade.
Figures show Lothian Buses’ number 5 service from Oxgangs to The Jewel via the Bridges now takes 67 minutes to complete the route outside peak hours compared with 49 minutes in 2006. And the evening-peak journey by the 3 from Wester Hailes to Mayfield via the city centre takes 95 minutes – 13 minutes longer.
Now the city transport leader who introduced the Greenways 20 years ago has blamed council chiefs for failing to enforce and maintain the congestion-busting bus lanes.
Professor David Begg said: “When they were first introduced, Edinburgh was the only city in the UK to show a consistent improvement in bus journey times. However, since then bus journey times in Edinburgh have reverted to the UK norm and have been increasing by ten per cent every decade.”
He acknowledged traffic had increased generally, but he said: “The whole purpose of Greenways was to try to protect bus journey times from growing congestion. Some of the shine has come off it now.”
And he warned that a nine-month pilot currently under way, allowing all traffic to use the Greenways outside peak hours, should not be made permanent or congestion will worsen, journey times will increase further and the council will lose out financially because its dividend from Lothian Buses will drop.
He said: “If journey times increase by ten per cent, you lose 10-14 per cent patronage from full-fare passengers.”
Prof Begg said the council should ring-fence a proportion of its bus dividend to pay for enforcement and maintenance.
He said: “You could start by painting them green again – especially now that Hibs have won the cup!”
He said there were just nine cameras to cover 60km of Greenways, and has called for greater police involvement in enforcing the restrictions.
“Motorists get wise to where the cameras are so they know when they can go into the bus lane without being caught,” he said. “When we started we had more help from the police.”
Current transport leader Lesley Hinds said use of public transport was increasing.
She added: “We keep in close contact with the bus operators to ensure they identify and improve locations where delays are encountered on the road network and also encourage them to develop more efficient and quicker methods of payment for passengers.”