Edinburgh roads: Travellers 'skeptical' over A8 corridor measures to cut journey times

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The latest stage of the plans has sparked widespread doubts.

Proposals to improve the commute from West Lothian into Edinburgh will  only work if bus and rail services are up to scratch, residents have warned.

Transport plans have been drawn up in anticipation of the expected  housing development along the M8 Corridor from Maybury to Broxburn.

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The latest stage of a long term plan to develop the £36 million West Edinburgh Transport Improvement Programme (WETIP) was outlined to members of the Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh Local Area Committee.

It is hoped the improvements can help cut long commute times on the route, which is one of Edinburgh's most congested. The nine mile stretch of road between Broxburn to Maybury  should take a nominal 20 minutes, but regular commuters told of two hour bus journeys into the city. 

Part of the scheme focuses on improving public transport links and sustainable transport from the Broxburn area into Edinburgh along a corridor that is set to see huge housing development.

And two transport hubs in Broxburn would allow people to park to take buses into the city, as well as encourage other forms of active travel.

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But there is widespread doubt that any elements of the scheme would work, as it's claimed people are reluctant to give up their cars. Others doubted that bus services could cope with the expected passenger demand.

Councillor Tony Boyle said he was 'sceptical' and stressed that wider improvements to public transport had to be developed before people would be encouraged not to take their cars .

He went on to highlight problems with existing infrastructure and the congestion along the main roads in Edinburgh, specifically around Corstorphine.

He said that investment should be made in the reopening of Winchburgh railway station as the most effective way of taking commuter traffic off the roads into the city.

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Irene Bishop  from Uphall community council, said she would no longer drive into the capital  because of the parking charges drivers now face, and the state of the roads in the city.

Craig McCorriston,  the lead officer for the Broxburn LAC and the head of planning and economic development in West Lothian, stressed that the WETIP plan  was a “starting point”. 

He added that it would be part and parcel of a wider range of programmes being introduced in Edinburgh to improve public transport.

Councillor Diane Calder expressed concern that existing parking at the Strathbrock Partnership could be lost if the site was developed as a transport hub with electrical charging and parking for cycles.

She also raised issues about bus connections into the city.

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Ellie Tappenden, from Broxburn Community Council, described how she had to leave two hours before her shift to ensure she got to work in Haymarket in time to start- travelling by bus in the afternoons. “It’s soul destroying,” she said.

Existing problems were highlighted in the report: “Congestion levels are such that they impact bus operators’ ability to run, fast, reliable, and attractive services. Congestion also significantly increases operating costs, with additional buses required to maintain frequencies at peak periods.

“Generally, and as a result of congestion, bus journey times in Edinburgh have increased by nearly 20% in the last 10 years on certain corridors. Consequently, bus journey times across the WETIP corridor are not sufficiently attractive to encourage passenger growth” 

The report added: “The scale and ambition of the WETIP objectives and proposals will help reduce bus journey times, improve reliability, and increase the overall attractiveness of the bus network across the A8/A89 corridor. The measures also have the potential to significantly help towards taking action against climate change and reducing the number of kilometres made by car journeys.”

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Gordon Brown, West Lothian’s council roads and transport manager, told the meeting:  “The purpose is to encourage people out of their cars and into buses  and  improve journey times for people travelling into Edinburgh on the bus.”

The next stages in the WETIP programme include detailed design tasks, promotion of  the required statutory consents, and the development of a Final Business Case for the development. The proposed time table for the scheme is to complete  the work by the end of the decade. 

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