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The bus priority measure, which was implemented in 2020 on the A8 to prioritise public transport and speed up journey times for key workers during the pandemic, came under fire last week when councillors and Edinburgh Airport voiced “very real concerns” about congestion in the Ingilston area.
There were also fears that increased activity on the A8 over the summer months, which sees The Royal Highland Show come to the area in two weeks time and several big music events across June through August would lead to pandemonium on the popular main road.
But Edinburgh City Council’s decision this week to remove the temporary traffic order has also been met with backlash from councillors and activist groups.
Green councillor, Claire Miller has said that making decisions that prioritise cars over public transport is not the solution.
Councillor Miller said that “congestion is dangerous and unwelcome” but added: “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.”
The Green co-convener 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.”
Following a meeting on Monday when it was announced that the council will remove the bus lane in the near future, transport convener Scott Arthur has spoken of the benefits that have come from the temporary traffic regulation order (TRO) and how this analysis can effectively shape the future of Edinburgh’s roads.
Councillor Arthur explained that the plan was always to remove the TRO when traffic returned to pre-pandemic levels and that data collection from the last two years will be vital to successfully execute future decisions.
The transport convener said: “Since the implementation of the bus lane a process of data collection has been ongoing and this will be essential to the development of wider permanent transport interventions for the A8 and A89 corridors through the West Edinburgh Transport Improvement Programme, which we have been working on for a number of years, in partnership with neighbouring authorities.
“The delivery of temporary Bus Priority Measures along the A8 & A89 through the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund has provided an opportunity to test bus priority measures, collect live data and deliver early benefits to operators, which was much needed during the pandemic.
“This exercise has not only helped advance thinking on West Edinburgh Transport Improvement Programme on how the permanent measures will operate, but these temporary measures have also informed our successful bid into the Bus Partnership Fund, resulting in further £1.4m of funds being awarded to the City Region Deal.”
He added: “I am absolutely committed to improving public transport in Edinburgh. I hope to learn from this scheme and I look forward to working in partnership with Edinburgh Airport to assist them in their efforts to become more sustainable. I would be happy to meet with Councillor Miller to discuss her concerns.”