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Scottish Government Is Idling on Transport Changes



The Scottish Government today produced a ‘Transport Strategy Refresh’ and released transport statistics from 2006-2014 showing a significant drop in bus passengers and the continued dominance of the car. Commenting on the figures, Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon “These disappointing figures show that the Scottish Government is idling on the transport changes the country needs.

Our current transport policies are killing people and trashing the climate.  There are more cars on the road, more miles being driven and a higher proportion of journeys to work being made by car.  Put simply, we’re going in the wrong direction. The majority of our air pollution is coming from traffic, leading to the public health crisis whereby 2000 lives are lost each year.

“A quarter of all our climate emissions are coming from our transport system – a figure that has remained largely unchanged in the last decade while other sectors have reduced emissions.”

Figures show bus passenger journeys have decreased by 12% from 476 million to 414million between 2006 and 2014.
Dr Dixon continued,

“The significant fall in bus journeys is deeply concerning and the Government should be investing more in public transport if they wish to see a real sustained improvement in passenger figures.  The Government have presided over 14% and 16% rises in bus and rail whereas the cost of running a car has stayed the same in real terms.  Public transport must be on a level footing with the private car if people are to be able to make sensible transport choices.”

Cycling has shown an increase in kilometres covered but still only accounts for 1.4% of all journeys.

Dr Dixon continued,
“Cycling has progressed steadily but still is the poor relation when it comes to government funding.  Active travel schemes that encourage walking and cycling will receive just £41million this year whereas motorways and trunk roads will get twenty times as much.
We’re calling on Finance Secretary to rethink these allocations and boost spending on clean transport.  The Scottish Government’s target is for 10% of all journeys to be taken by bicycle by 2020 so we’ve got a mountain to climb.”

On Transport minister Derek Mackay’s comments as reported in The Scotsman saying that car growth could not continue, Dr Dixon concluded:

“We welcome the Minister’s recognition that the current situation cannot go on but the Government must be more radical if it is to transform our transport system.”