Bus routes bumped up to top priority on city's list of pothole repairs

POTHOLE repairs on Edinburgh's crumbling roads are set to be re-prioritised to favour the Capital's buses, it has emerged.

• Repairs will focus on routes used by buses at the expense of other roads

Budget cuts mean that council workers are set to carry out fewer repairs than in previous years.

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Now bosses have come up with a new system to grade roads in terms of their importance, with major bus routes becoming top priority.

That means motorists could be waiting years for repairs to other roads not used by public transport.

It comes as a new report shows that investment in road and pavement repairs is set to fall from 17 million in the current financial year to 14.5m in 2011/12.

The city council said the budget cut made "effective prioritisation" even more important, adding that bus routes should be given "greater priority" than roads not used by buses.

There will also be three different categories of importance depending on how many buses use a particular road.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the move was "bizarre".

He said: "This seems a bizarre and unfair method of prioritising repairs. It arbitrarily and incorrectly inflates the importance of buses in the way most people get about.

"The majority of journeys are by car and if there is work to be done then surely it should be done having taken account of both damage and traffic flow. Roads should be safe for all road users not just one class of traveller."

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But the city council said the busiest roads would continue to receive the highest priority weightings.

Since 2004, the amount of money spent mending Edinburgh's roads has leapt from around 3.6m a year. But with cuts to be made across all council budgets, bosses have decided to change the way they allocate repairs.

At present roads are given a grading based on how many vehicles use them on a daily basis, but this is set to change in favour of buses.

Councillor Robert Aldridge said the effect of the changes would be to apply the highest priority to roads with high volumes of traffic which are also heavily used by buses.

He said: "We identified that our previous assessment process had not taken full account of the heaviest and busiest bus routes.

"This has now been addressed and the updated prioritisation system reflects good practice as well as protecting the public purse."

Last year the Evening News discovered that Edinburgh faces a 86m backlog of road and pavement repairs after years of neglect.

About 45m needs to be spent on the city's potholed roads and 41m on its dangerous pavements to make up for chronic under-investment stretching back decades.Four out of every ten roads in the city are in need of urgent attention, with at least 25,000 new potholes reported annually despite record levels of investment in the past few years.