Edinburgh transport: Here are the key issues next up for debate, including workplace parking levy and cycle lane bollards
Parking levy, cycle lane and EV chargers all on Edinburgh agenda
A workplace parking levy in Edinburgh could raise up to £14.9 million a year for transport projects in the Capital, according to latest predictions.
A report to the city’s transport committee outlines a range of options if the council decides to go ahead with such a levy, which would mean employers being charged for workplace parking spaces used by their staff and they could choose whether to pass the cost on to the employees. The minority Labour administration is opposed to the move, but SNP and Green councillors are in favour and the Lib Dems are committed to a consultation.
The controversial measure is just one of the issues up for discussion at the city's transport committee on Thursday.
Workplace parking levy won’t start for at least two years
The report says a workplace parking levy (WPL) would take a minimum of two years to set up and operating costs are estimated at £500,000 a year. A charge of £550 per space per year – roughly what is charged in Nottingham, the only place in the UK to have the levy up and running – would produce an average income of between £5.5m and £11m, says the report. But it models charges ranging from £500 a year to £750, combined with differing levels of exemptions and various scenarios about how many parking spaces might be removed once the levy was introduced. The minimum estimated income is £5m a year and the maximum £14.9m.
A previous projection suggested the levy could bring in as much as £19m, but the revised figures take into account altered work patterns and other changes in the wake of Covid. The report says in Nottingham employers reduced the number of parking places they provided by 25 per cent in order to limit their liability for the levy. The maximum number of of parking places where a levy could be charged in Edinburgh is estimated at around 35,000.
A WPL would be designed to encourage more use of public transport, cut car miles in the city, reduce emissions and ease congestion. Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “The WPL has generated £9m income for Nottingham, but it’s less clear what it has done for congestion.” He said there was evidence of “suppressed demand” for parking so that even if some staff were deterred from taking their car into work, the parking spaces they vacated were then taken up by other people, resulting in the same levels of traffic.
And he said he still had concerns about displaced parking – where drivers decide to park in nearby residential streets rather than pay to park at their work – and also the problem for shift workers whose starting and finishing times meant public transport was not easily available.
Bollards to return after driver take over cycle lane
A cycle lane where the bollards were removed before Christmas is set to have some of them reinstated after motorists took over the roadspace.
Councillors agreed in September to remove the physical defenders from the cycle lane in Drum Brae North, originally introduced under the Spaces for People scheme, but leave the cycle lane in place. However, a report to the committee says vehicles regularly encroach onto the cycleway, use it as a second lane at junctions and force cyclists to ride with heavy traffic. Now officials are recommending bollards are reinstated along about half the length of the cycleway.
Transport convener Scott Arthur said: “Cars are approaching the junction, using the cycle lane as a queuing filter to turn left so they fully occupy the cycle lane and there’s video of at least one vehicle which couldn’t quite fit in the cycle lane, so drove down the cycle lane with two wheels on the footpath. There is a nursery nearby. What we propose is to reintroduce the physical defenders on that road to protect cyclists and, quite bizarrely, pedestrians as well.” But he said it did not mean removing any space from vehicles. “The space is already allocated for active travel, it’s just about protecting it.”
80 per cent rise in prices for EV charging
The cost of charging an electric vehicle at Edinburgh’s council owned network of charging points will increase by up to 80 per cent from April.
The council completed the installation of the first phase of its network last year, with 81 charge points, creating 141 EV charging bays – they are a mix of standard, fast and rapid chargers – and motorists had to start paying to use them in May. The prices were set at 25p per kWh for a standard charger, 30p per kWh for a fast charger and 35p per kWh for a rapid charger. But in November councillors agreed to look again at the tariff after transport convener Scott Arthur said the soaring cost of electricity meant the council was effectively subsidising electric vehicle drivers and the charging network was running at a loss.
Now the cost of using a charger will go up by 20p per kWh, increasing the prices to 45p per kWh for standard, 50p per kWh for fast and 55p per kWh for rapid chargers. And in future, it is planned to alter the rates on a rolling basis to respond to changing electricity costs. It is also proposed to revise the maximum stay periods for fast and rapid chargers, removing overnight maximum stay periods from fast chargers and increasing the maximum stay period for rapid chargers from 30 minutes to one hour.
Phase two of the roll-out of the council’s charging network will see a further 22 public charge points in residential areas, creating 44 charging bays, which are expected to be in place by spring 2023. Another 37 charge points, or 74 charging bays, for the exclusive use of the Car Club members are expected to be delivered within the same timescale.