COUNCIL bosses in Edinburgh hope to have completed a new north-south tram line by 2030 and could introduce road tolls as part of a new blueprint to overhaul how people move around the city.
Edinburgh City Council has drawn up its final 10-year plan to better connect the capital by delivering a carbon net zero transport system – inspired by projects in a host of global cities including Aukland, Copenhagen and Amsterdam.
As part of the city mobility plan, by 2030, a “mass transit network” will have been “extended west and beyond” and will have been “developed to connect the waterfront in the north to the Royal Infirmary in the south and beyond” – potentially setting up connections with the wider Lothians and Fife.
The council is currently constructing an extension of the original tram line to Newhaven in the north of the city in a £207 million project – which is due to be opened to passengers in 2023.
The Scottish Government has included a mass transit system for Edinburgh, as well as developing a ‘Glasgow metro’ on its transport priority list for the next 20 years.
The council’s plans warns that “we cannot spend another 20 years building a single tram line when we need to develop a truly integrated public transport network, including additional tram lines, in the next ten years”.
It adds: “Increasing mass rapid transit is critical if we are to meet the needs of our growing city in a sustainable way.”
A key action in the city mobility plan commits to “expand the tram/mass rapid transport network to the north and south of the city as well as to Newhaven and explore the potential to develop or extend mass rapid transit routes into Fife, West, Mid and East Lothian.”
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The authority will also explore setting up a “pay as you drive scheme” as a potential solution to “support demand management” of traffic “if necessary”.
Officials say that a policy, such as charging drivers to use certain roads “reduces the number of cares in a city through economic disincentives” and helps to encourage people to switch to public transport.
The plan will also set out the authority investigating creating “new strategically placed transport hubs on the edge of the city” – where people travelling into Edinburgh can switch to public transport and active travel.
The vision also commits to “expand and enhance the citywide network of cycle routes” and highlights that “speed limits on all of Edinburgh’s roads will continue to be review”, adding that “where there is a justification to do so, limits will be reduced”.
The council also hopes to “develop proposals” to introduce a workplace parking levy, following a consultation – which would charges employers for offering free parking to their workforce in a bid to encourage more people to travel more sustainably.
Transport and environment convener, Lesley Macinnes, said: “Edinburgh is a truly unique city in terms of its heritage, architecture and striking landscape, home to some of history’s greatest innovators. Now we want to push the boundaries as we look to the future of transport and mobility here.
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“The finalised city mobility plan recognises the need to revolutionise the way we move around the capital if we are to tackle the host of challenges we face, both locally and on a global scale.”
She added: “Transport is the biggest generator of carbon emissions in Edinburgh and our commitment to be net zero carbon by 2030 depends on a step-change in the way we travel, a change which would also significantly impact on air quality, congestion and road safety.
“More than that, our approach to transport addresses poverty and the cost of travel, the barriers facing those with mobility difficulties and the economic benefits of a better-connected, liveable environment.
“This is a bold, forward-looking strategy, befitting of this pioneering city, which will transform our streets, neighbourhoods and connections with the rest of the world for generations to come.”