Transport

The Confederation of British Industry has estimated that traffic congestion costs the British economy £15 billion each year. Pedestrians and cyclists are twice as likely to be killed on the road in the UK than in Sweden or the Netherlands.

Over one third (35 – 36%) of Scots do not have access to a car. Without action, traffic levels in Scotland will grow by 27% over the next 20 years. Cheap flights, using untaxed fuel, are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases and are set to account for 10% of man-made greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Current transport policy in Scotland is failing. As our roads become more congested, the travelling public find themselves with few reliable travel alternatives to using their cars. Little has been done in recent years to address the legacy of decades of under-investment in public transport infrastructure and services. With no solution in sight and very little money being made available, our country is grinding to a halt. Our environment is being damaged, people are being excluded, public health is suffering, and the Scottish economy is being stifled. Too often attempts to introduce greener transport policies are blocked by the powerful car lobby.

The Scottish Green Party envisages a transport system for Scotland that minimises environmental impact, meets the basic transport needs of every member of society, protects public health and serves a sustainable Scottish economy. We believe that the solution lies in increased investment in public transport infrastructure and services, controlled wherever possible by the communities and customers that use them. This would produce a transport system geared towards the needs of passengers rather than the profits of shareholders – one that would provide convenient, reliable and affordable travel alternatives to the car, allowing the car to be used in a more responsible manner. Greens also propose measures to bring about an overall reduction in demand for transport by supporting local jobs and services. We want to see the real costs of transport distributed more fairly and an increase in the amount of money available for improving and providing travel alternatives to the car. This will lead to sharp reductions in traffic levels, congestion, social exclusion, pollution and accidents, and to a transport system that actually supports the Scottish economy

General

  • We will work to have those transport matters currently still the responsibility of Westminster devolved to the Scottish Parliament. We will reduce road traffic levels by 10% by 2010. We will ensure further decentralisation of control over transport through the creation of regional transport commissions, accountable to local authorities, local communities and passengers. We will establish a dedicated Scottish Transport Minister. We will support the local development of community-owned and organised transport projects and/or initiatives. Local authorities will be placed under a greater obligation to integrate their transport and land-use planning.

Walking and Cycling

  • We will increase support and investment for walking and cycling, including increased space and priority for pedestrians, more segregated cycle facilities and cycle priority routes. We will develop a comprehensive national network of walking and cycle tracks and facilities, including secure storage facilities at public transport interchanges. We will ensure further development of home zones (residential areas with reduced speed limits and traffic calming) and safer routes to school initiatives, to encourage walking, cycling, road safety and recreation in residential areas.

Public Transport

  • We will expand free and subsidised public transport travel passes to ensure that all of those on low incomes have their transport needs met. We will establish and promote a national ticketing scheme, which will allow the use of a ‘through-ticket’ for journeys involving different forms of public transport. We will invest in light rail or tram schemes for Scotland’s cities and urban areas, and establish a network of one-stop-shop information points providing the public with timetable, route and fare details for the whole transport network.

Rail

  • We will return the rail network to public ownership through a not-for-profit, community-owned enterprise. We will reopen important railway lines and links which have been lost in the past, and create new rail links, particularly to rural and less well served areas. We will invest in a system of Scottish high speed trains to replace flights to the south of England and mainland Europe.

Air

  • We will resist any attempts to build new airports in Scotland or the expansion of existing facilities, and will put an end to late-night flights. Aviation fuel tax will be imposed at a national level as well as locally (with the exception of island flights) to reflect the full environmental costs of air transport. We will support a European Aviation emissions charge. We will also support the maintenance of air links to remote island communities where ferries are clearly less feasible and/or seasonal due to weather conditions.

Roads and Car Travel

  • We will completely halt all major trunk road building in Scotland, freeing up money for other schemes. New bypasses will be allowed only in the case of small towns or villages which are severed by a major traffic artery that is causing major social, environmental and safety problems. We will ensure greater use of vehicle related charges and taxes (such as congestion charges, emissions charges and parking charges). We support the development of, and conversion to, alternative fuel vehicles. We will set targets for actual reduction in national and local traffic levels rather than merely a reduction in growth. We will abolish Vehicle Excise Duty, which will be compensated for by an increase in fuel tax, accompanied by grants to help those with a special need to use their car (including many living in rural areas). This will be tied to a requirement that the cars used represent the most sustainable travel choice available. We will introduce a national third-party insurance scheme to compensate the victims of uninsured drivers.

Freight

  • We will encourage freight back onto rail and water through investment in new infrastructure and support grants. We will maximise the benefit of Scotland’s good area to coastline ratio and canals by working towards transferring the transport of bulky, non-urgent freight onto ships. We will progressively decrease the maximum permissible size and weight of lorries allowed on certain roads.

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Scottish Green Party, PO Box 14080, Edinburgh EH10 6YG
Tel / Fax: 0131 478 7896
e-mail: info@scottishgreens.org.uk