A Public Transport Renaissance
Only the Scottish Green Party has the vision to break with transport policies that have barely changed since the 1960s, policies that are no longer serving the public good. There's a clear need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport and to end our dependence on dwindling oil supplies. But there's also an opportunity for transport policy to deliver social, environmental and economic improvements.
A step change in transport policy
We will begin a long-term shift in investment away from building extra capacity in the trunk road network while protecting maintenance of the existing road network, which has suffered so badly over recent winters. Instead, we'll invest those resources in demand management strategies.
Comprehensive access to broadband would allow the development of home-working, which has the potential to ease the pressure on our transportation networks. Travel planning services are one of the best value ways of reducing demand for road travel, and can save people money when they find public transport options which work for them. Eventually road pricing will have a role to play, but such schemes have to be affordable especially in rural areas.
With better use of the planning system the distance people need to travel to work and to access services can be reduced. A 'Living Streets' approach will build neighbourhoods that are safer, healthier and happier.
The capital investment needed for walking and cycling is minimal, but the economic benefit is huge, especially given the improvement to public health. We'll ensure that by the end of the next Parliament active travel will receive at least 10 per cent of the transport budget; walking and cycling must be a particular priority for school transport.
Public transport has become less and less affordable, and we will allocate £75m a year in revenue support to bring fares down. A further £650m over the next Parliament will be allocated to a fund for extra public transport infrastructure, including park & ride facilities, active travel, further rail electrification and opening railway stations.
Workplaces have a role to play in supporting these changes, with showers and space for bike parking, and workplace parking charges to help pay for cut-price public transport deals and bike-to-work schemes. In cities, public bike-hire schemes as well as car clubs have a big role to play in cutting the number of cars on the roads.
We'll review Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance to ensure environmental, social and economic costs and benefits are fully reflected in Government investment.
Many local projects have remained unfunded because of the focus on roads - Glasgow and Aberdeen Crossrail projects, completion of the Edinburgh tram network, renewal and expansion of the Glasgow Subway, alternative ways of linking Glasgow airport with the rail network, completion of the Borders Railway through to Carlisle, and construction of passing loops on single track lines.
We will also open old and new local stations across Scotland such as Newburgh, Blackford, Bonnybridge, Grangemouth, Newtonhill and Kintore, and improvements to rural services such as a Dornoch Firth crossing.
Maintaining our roads
The backlog of road repairs is enormous - over £2bn according to Audit Scotland - and yet the SNP administration plans to spend at least £1.6bn on an extra Forth Road Bridge. We won't proceed with this plan, but will instead support the £122m repair of the existing bridge should the dehumidification approach not prove successful.
We will also halt plans for the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route. This road would increase both pollution and car-dependency, as well as diverting money from other key local services such as schools.
Other major road projects will be reviewed but a continual expansion in trunk road capacity will not be supported.
We will cut the national speed limit to 50mph on single carriageways to make roads safer and to help cut the costs of driving.
We'll support the development of electric transport, by working with Scottish companies which are creating jobs here developing and manufacturing vehicles, batteries and rapid-charging technology.
Positive on public transport development
The Scottish Green Party will work with the rail industry and trades unions to develop a non-profit body capable of bidding for the Scotrail franchise in 2014. We'll provide more flexible support for rail freight, recognising that many companies want to transfer to rail but face a barrier given the capital investment needed.
We'll develop detailed preparation for High Speed Rail in Scotland, with a view to taking specific proposals to UK Government building the case for a commitment to extend the network to Glasgow and Edinburgh, with options to go further north from there.
We'll consult on proposals for greater regulation of bus services, including a wider role for the Traffic Commissioner. Public transport is a public service, and the market alone will never protect many of the routes people depend upon.
Accessible transport also needs action from Government; some big operators have made improvements but there are still services running which people with disabilities find simply unusable.
We'll support reductions in public transport fares over the course of the four year term, through a shift from road-building to public transport spending, and we will oppose any attempt to end the concessionary travel scheme for older people and people with disabilities.
And an end to airport expansion
We'll oppose the return of any form of aviation subsidy, and use the planning system to prevent further capacity expansion in Scottish airports.
We'll end the use of internal UK mainland flights by the Scottish Government except in emergencies, and push for the same policy throughout the public sector; flights to any destination within reach of Eurostar should become the exception rather than the norm.'Lifeline' flights to Scotlandís islands are an essential service, and will be supported.
Please see pages 12-13 of the Scottish Green Party manifesto for this policy.
The party had no previous policy stated on its website for this topic for comparison.
Retrieved on 04/05/11 (11:34pm) from: 2011 Party Manifesto