Lothian Buses boss: Why action is needed to tackle Edinburgh's growing congestion problems
“All of us who regularly travel around Edinburgh will know the impact that congestion has on our city. Our thriving business and tourism sectors help make Edinburgh a popular place to be but also presents a challenge when we all try to move from A to B,” writes Lothian managing director Richard Hall.
"It goes without saying that congestion also has an impact on Lothian’s services. As journey times increase, bus usage declines as customers seek alternative methods of travel, whether that be on foot, bike or through other transport modes.
"Lothian have always been at the forefront of innovation, changing the way we operate by introducing new vehicles to our fleet to speed up journey times and making incremental changes to reduce impact. However, we cannot work alone and require the support from decision-makers to help combat this issue.
"The cost of congestion is not just the impact on our customers’ journey time but also significantly increases our costs whether that be in terms of fuel, vehicles or staff.
"Across the last few years we have put additional buses into our network at a cost of over £3.3million to maintain reliability for our customers in spite of the jams on the road. However, this brings no extra revenue to Lothian and we have now reached a point where no amount of additional resources will mitigate the congestion. Action needs to be taken to speed up bus journeys in some form and this almost certainly means dissuading motorists from using their cars at certain points.
"Any action to encourage fewer cars on our roads needs to be handled with care and after thorough research, but public transport operators are ready to play their part in helping Edinburgh. One bus can take the equivalent of 75 cars off the road. In doing so, we can also improve air quality and also make a real difference to climate change.
"Out of everywhere in the UK, we find ourselves in the unenviable position of being crowned as champions of congestion. We now need a collective effort to get us moving in the right direction once again."