TRANSPORT chiefs have been labelled “wholly irresponsible” after stressing that charging drivers to use park and ride sites could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds to expand the provision across the Capital.
Addressing the city council’s governance, risk and best value committee, the chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, George Lowder, didn’t explicitly call for charges to be introduced. But council bosses have confirmed they could consider charging motorists to use park and ride sites.
Mr Lowder said: “I’m not talking here about paying to park, although that is of course a potential decision that elected members could make.
“Our analysis suggests that you could raise in the region of £350,000 per annum by charging a pound to park. That might cover some of the capital expenditure costs of extending the network – or extending the existing sites.”
The city council will bring forward proposals to potentially overhaul park and rides in an action plan.
Transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “The increasing popularity of our park and ride sites is heartening in that it demonstrates the rise in demand for public transport – something we are keen to encourage amongst commuters and visitors to Edinburgh.
“However, with this comes a pressure on capacity, particularly at Hermiston and Ingliston park and ride sites. This issue is being considered as part of our public transport priority action plan, where it is intended to explore funding options to facilitate future expansion. A parking fee may be considered, among other options, but will likely be linked to onward travel by tram or bus in order to offer good value. The purpose of any parking fee will be solely to fund expansion and improve the facilities for users.”
Opposition councillors have united to rubbish any indication that charges should be introduced for park and ride sites.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, Cllr Kevin Lang, said: “Charging people to use park and ride sites would be wholly irresponsible and entirely counter productive. The whole point of park and ride is to encourage motorists not to drive into the city. If you charge people for the privilege then they’ll simply come into town and park their vehicles on local roads for free.
“It is astonishing that those with responsibility for expanding public transport use in Edinburgh are even suggesting this. After all, when charging was proposed for park and ride sites over in Fife last year, the backlash from the public and an outcry from bus operators forced a hasty u-turn.”
The city council operate seven park and ride sites around the outskirts of the Capital.
The last time the council considered proposals for expanding its provision was in May 2018, when officials warned against a park and ride site at Lothianburn – saying it would cost around £3.5m and warned “it is unlikely there would be sufficient passenger numbers to support the Lothianburn site”.
Conservative transport spokesperson, Cllr Nick Cook, said: “Charging motorists to use park and rides would act as an impediment to their use. I don’t believe such a move should be supported at this time.
“What is clear is that Edinburgh Council has to do much more to actually support park and rides, rather than just claiming they do. Their refusal to move forward with the long-mooted Lothianburn park and ride, as called for by Conservatives and Lib Dems, is the perfect example of an administration tall on words, but short on action.”