The city council’s regulatory committee agreed to launch a public consultation on plans to set up a new 10-bay taxi stance on East Market Street between the Jeffrey Street junction and The Arches – further away form the current temporary provision, which would be halted.
A report to councillors by officials highlights “significant traffic congestion” in the Market Street area and claims that “the volume of pedestrians in the area exacerbates these problems”. It is thought the changes would only be in affect until the Waverley master plan, which plans to overhaul the station by 2048, is brought forward.
The report adds: “The mix of flow and volume of traffic and pedestrians continues to increase, in addition to several ongoing building works in the locus, and there is therefore an increase of risk to the safety of the public.”
Transport officer Chris McGarvey told councillors that the council has had “a few complaints from police” about traffic and parking issues and that his colleague was “struck by a vehicle doing a u-turn”.
He added: “What these plans are looking at is a temporary solution until that master plan is approved.
“The challenge we have got is there is no space to accommodate everyone – we have looked at just about every other possible option. There’s very limited space for where we can put a dedicated taxi rank close to the station exits.”
Cllr Derek Howie, the council’s equalities champion, spoke out about the problems at Waverley Station he experiences as a blind passenger.
He said: “Trying to access taxis on Market Street is pretty chaotic and it certainly needs some improvement – the existing space is insufficient.”
Cllr Scott Arthur labelled the taxi ranks at both Edinburgh Airport and Waverley station as “unsatisfactory”.
He added: “When people first enter the city, it’s their first interface with the city.
“It’s going to make it harder for people with disabilities to get out of the station and into a taxi.
“The delivery master plan for Waverley Station is some years away so it is a difficult situation. My feeling is that putting more enforcement around the station is definitely an issue.”
Cllr Cameron Rose questioned whether any changes were needed at all to the current taxi rank arrangements on Market Street.
He said: “There are a number of issues here. It looks to me to be absolutely crazy to be asking a proportion of the 24 million passengers who go to Waverley every year, to go from what’s currently about 50 metres, to more than double that and across a road. That has got to be bad.
“I’m not at all persuaded what we have got here is a very good solution for the users of Waverley station.”
Councillors agreed to go ahead with the consultation on the proposed changes.
Regulatory convener, Cllr Cathy Fullerton said: “There’s definitely no easy answer to this, but there’s no doubt in my mind that Market Street is congested.
“This is the first stage and it’s going to consultation.”