Cyclists and Greens disappointed by decision to remove bus lane on the A8

Cyclists and a co-convener of the Green Party have spoken out against the city council’s decision to remove a temporary bus lane on the A8.

By Neil Johnstone
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 7:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 7:59 am
Claire Miller
Claire Miller

The city council has agreed to remove the bus lane after scenes of gridlock along the A8 during peak hours between the Newbridge roundabout and Edinburgh Airport.

The announcement was made following concerns from Edinburgh Airport and Edinburgh councillors, suggesting that bottlenecking Edinburgh road users in the Ingilston area could lead to chaos ahead of summer events which include the Royal Highland Show and the Connect Festival.

The bus priority measure, which was always labelled as a temporary traffic order, was implemented in 2020 to speed up journey times for key workers and prioritise public transport.

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But in recent weeks significant congestion has been recorded with cars and lorries on the frequented motorway being restricted to a single lane and causing standstill traffic.

This prompted Lib Dem group leader, Kevin Lang to warn the council that the capital was heading towards a “summer of traffic chaos” without any intervention and a spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport added that the, “gridlock and extended journey times” was causing “very real concerns.”

Now Claire Miller, Green councillor for city centre ward has said that although congestion in the city is “dangerous”, removing measures that promote public transport use is not the answer.

Cllr Miller said: “There can be no denying that too many inefficient journeys are currently made in Edinburgh, and that congestion is dangerous and unwelcome.

“However, cries of ‘traffic chaos’ and ‘gridlock’ from some councillors shows a lack of awareness that good quality public transport at affordable prices is the solution rather than the problem.”

She added: “The Council needs to work with bus companies to ensure fast and frequent bus services to Ingliston and the airport, which will only be achieved with dedicated priority space for buses.”

Cllr Miller’s message have been echoed by a member of the cycle campaign group, Spokes, Ian Maxwell, who said public transport links should take priority over traffic congestion. Mr Maxwell said: “Spokes would like to take the long term view that Edinburgh needs good public transport links to all the places that people want to go and that should be just as important as alleviating temporary traffic congestion.”

It is not yet known when the changes to the A8 will be implemented but it is understood that the council will decide on a date for the bus lane to be removed next week.

Transport convener, Scott Arthur, told the Evening News yesterday that following a meeting between council officers and Lothian Buses they concluded that, “the time is now right for the temporary lane to be removed.”

Cllr Arthur said he was, “absolutely committed to improving public transport in Edinburgh” and added the council will continue to collect data of traffic in the area following the removal of the bus lane to, “help inform the wider permanent transport interventions being worked up through the West Edinburgh Transport Improvement Programme.”

The council has been approached for comment.