Scotland looks to mass transit in latest transport strategy


A new blueprint that ‘repositions’ the Scottish Government’s transport investment priorities could see new mass transit schemes for Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen city regions.

The delayed second Strategic Transport Projects Review (STPR2) makes 45 recommendations, which the Scottish Government said seek to make transport in the country ‘more sustainable and support people to make better, more informed choices on how they travel’.

However, ministers had already removed the Scottish Government’s two key roadbuilding schemes totalling £6bn from consideration under the review, despite officials initially promising the country’s parliament that they would be included.

Cabinet secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson said the recommendations support measures set out last week in the Scottish Government’s route map to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030.

He said: ‘The pandemic has led to fundamental shifts in travel behaviours and we want to ensure that people continue to make sustainable travel choices, that they return to public transport and our economic recovery does not overly rely on road-based travel.

‘This review represents a repositioning of our transport investment priorities – the focus is firmly on how transport can help us protect our climate and improve lives. It takes a balanced and fair approach to all modes of transport, and all areas of Scotland.’

Cllr Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council and chair of the Glasgow City Region City Deal cabinet, has suggested that a metro system for the Clyde region could cost £15bn.

She said: ‘Today’s announcement marks a major step forward in our commitment to creating a modern, sustainable, integrated public transport system for the city of Glasgow and its surrounding metropolitan region. ‘

The recommendations include:

  • Mass transit in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen city regions: ‘Clyde Metro represents a multi-billion investment which, when complete, could better connect over 1.5 million people to employment, education and health services in and around the Glasgow city region. Plans for Edinburgh & South East Scotland Mass Transit and Aberdeen Rapid Transit will also be developed.’
  • Rural transport and island communities: Continuing investment in ferry renewals, improving port infrastructure and connections from ferry terminals to other types of public transport to reduce car reliance, enhancing island connectivity and making safety improvements on rural trunk roads where accident rates and severities are typically higher.
  • Decarbonisation of public transport: Transport is Scotland’s biggest carbon emitter and the recommendations emphasise decarbonisation and behaviour change for ferries, rail and buses as well as increasing the shift to zero emission vehicles.
  • Improving active travel infrastructure: encouraging more people to walk, wheel and cycle more often; cutting carbon emissions and improving health and wellbeing, particularly of children, while supporting sustainable economic growth.
  • Transforming freight: developing a net zero freight and logistics network for Scotland that would encourage the switch from road to rail or water and reduce the overall distance travelled, including a review of rail freight terminals/ hubs.

The document itself makes clear that inclusion of recommendations do not guarantee that proposals will be delivered but that it ‘presents the Strategic Business Case for the recommendations’.

A consultation on the document will be followed by more detailed business cases to inform the administration’s future spending.

‘Therefore, as development and business case work progresses, projects may become commitments with funding and a delivery programme. Or it may be determined that a recommendation is not a priority for investment or that it is of high priority.’

The review was due to be published by the end of 2021 but the Scottish Government had to write to the Scottish Parliament to inform it that it would be delayed.

In October 2019, Transport Scotland's director of roads, Hugh Gillies, told the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee that plans to dual the A9 and A96, costed at £3bn each, were ‘up for debate as part of the Strategy Transport Projects Review’.

However, last year Transport Scotland said the review would not consider the schemes.

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