Edinburgh third most congested city in UK

Edinburgh's traffic congestion is getting worse. Picture: Scott Taylor
Edinburgh's traffic congestion is getting worse. Picture: Scott Taylor
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TAXI drivers have blamed the trams for causing traffic delays after Edinburgh was labelled the third most congested city in the UK in a survey released today.

The TomTom Traffic Index showed that travel in the Capital had taken 36 per cent longer on average than it would have done in free-flowing traffic, and 71 per cent longer in the evening rush hour.

And it revealed commuters living within a 30-minute drive of the Capital face daily delays of around 24 minutes – adding up to a grand total of 93 hours a year.

Tuesday mornings were the worst for morning peak congestion at 73 per cent longer than free-flowing traffic, while Friday mornings were the best, at 51 per cent.

Evening peak congestion was at its most aggravating on Thursdays, while Mondays were best.

TomTom said congestion was worse last year in the Capital than it had been in 2013.

Veteran Edinburgh cabbie Philip Capaldi, of Central Radio Taxis, laid the blame on trams being given priority over cars and buses combined with road closures.

Mr Capaldi, a taxi driver for more than 30 years, called on transport chiefs to open George Street to traffic to relieve pressure on Queen Street and other hotspots.

Parts of George Street have been closed to traffic since last summer as part of an ongoing experiment, while traffic signalling has been changed to accommodate the trams.

“You have to open George Street back up – that’s the first step,” he said. “There is far too much traffic on Queen Street. The problem is the trams take priority as they go through junctions and bring everything else to a standstill. They should have to abide by the same rules as everyone else.

“Lesley Hinds [transport

convener] promised she was going to do something about this but nothing has happened.”

He said hotspots included Princes Street, Waverley Bridge, North Bridge and The Mound.

Frederick Street, Hanover Street, Lothian Road, Haymarket and Queensferry Street were also among the worst, he added.

Neil Greig, head of policy for Scotland for the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said trams had caused some congestion while more people were using their cars as the economy improved.

“It’s obvious if you put in something like a tram in an already busy city centre then that’s going to have a negative impact on car journey times,” he said.

“That is unavoidable. If the trams had been the huge success they were meant to be then there should be a balance.

“At the moment we have the worst of both worlds. We have delays caused by the tram infrastructure but we haven’t got people leaving their cars to use the tram. The only solution is to try to make the trams more attractive to car drivers.”

The poll found traffic havoc was worse year-on-year in 14 of the UK’s 17 biggest cities. The worst culprit was Belfast, followed by London.

Glasgow came 15th in the league table with a daily 30-minute commute experiencing a 19-minute delay.

Ralf-Peter Schaefer, vice-president of TomTom Traffic, said the information could help individuals and companies plan to beat the rush.

“Road authorities and local governments can use traffic data to better manage traffic flow and businesses can plan smarter working hours, so their employees avoid travelling during the rush hour.”

Despite the increase, however, Councillor Hinds maintained the council was committed to reducing traffic congestion.

“In Edinburgh, an increasing number of households choose not to own cars at the same time as an increase in people using sustainable methods of transport to get to work. Therefore I would question the reliability of these figures and would be interested to see the evidence behind them published.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “For our part, we are developing low carbon vehicle technology, promoting active travel choices, encouraging a greater shift to public transport, and ensuring our road network is as efficient as possible.

“The total budget for active travel in 2015-16 currently sits at almost £36 million – a 12 per cent increase on this time last year. Working alongside our partners in local authorities and other agencies we will continue to deliver high quality infrastructure and behaviour change programmes.

“In terms of Edinburgh, we have invested £500m for the tram link which will support employment and much improved local, national and international transport links. This will include connections to the airport, bus station and railways, and a new Edinburgh Gateway rail-tram interchange as part of our £742m Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme.”

GOING NOWHERE

The worst streets in Edinburgh are:

• Raeburn Place

• Easton Road

• London Road

• Maybury Road

• North Bridge

• South Bridge

‘Man-made potholes’ and broken pavements added to list of botched road repairs

CITY transport convener Lesley Hinds has promised regular inspections of roads in the Capital after Evening News revelations about almost £1 million worth of resurfacing work having to be redone sparked complaints about other trouble spots all over town.

Last week we told how new surfacing on up to 26 streets was set to be ripped up within weeks of being laid after potholes began appearing almost as soon as the contractors had left.

The original work was carried out at the end of last year at a cost of £928,000 as part of the council’s roads improvement programme, using a treatment known as “thin surface overlay”.

But city council chiefs said the problem had been traced to material from a coating plant in Leith and supplier Cemex has agreed to pay for the repairs.

However, the story prompted several readers to contact the paper about other problems with roads in different parts of the city.

Gerry Drummond highlighted an issue in Drum Brae. He said: “The road is being resurfaced and to my dismay, none of the manhole covers has been raised to compensate for the new surface level and this has resulted in the creation of what can only be described as man-made potholes.”

In Milton Road East, Portobello, Janice Arnott said all the pavements on roads leading off into Coillesdene had been dug up, with dimpled paving sets laid and re-tarred.

“This appears to be a total waste of money as there was nothing wrong with the pavements and the money would surely have been better spent repairing all the potholes that exist in Portobello and throughout the city.”

And in Kirk Loan, Corstorphine, Clint Stark said: “The water board are forever closing the road because in the middle of the road is some sort of drain. The road is a real disgrace for potholes.”

The council said its roads team was “fully aware on the manhole issue” in Drum Brae, with repairs set to be carried out today.

On Milton Road East,a council spokeswoman said: “An allocation of funding has been given to install dropped crossings at various locations throughout the city on footpaths not included in the capital list of footway schemes.”

And on Kirk Loan, she said utility companies were responsible for reinstating roads after work or repairs, adding: “We are working with Scottish Water to improve reinstatements.”

Cllr Hinds said: “Repairing roads and pavements is a key priority for residents and it is extremely important to us to ensure the city is as safe and accessible for all those living in and visiting it.

“That’s why we will continue to invest in improvements across the city, and have pledged an extra £5m in this year’s budget for maintaining and developing our roads and pavements. Having said that, I can understand the public’s frustration when they see unfinished works or deteriorating roads, and we will continue to carry out regular inspections alongside a city-wide programme of improvements.

“I would also encourage the public to report any road issues they see online at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/roadproblem or by phoning 0131 200 2000.”

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