Transport chiefs find land for new park and ride site

THE Capital's park and ride network is set to be extended with a new site in the south of the city, it has emerged.

The city council has approved moves to safeguard an area in Gilmerton Road close to the city bypass which is set to become the seventh park and ride facility serving Edinburgh.

Transport bosses had previously ruled out the area after failing to find a suitable location for the park and ride.

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But following a report which said a site at Gilmerton would be both "economically and operationally viable" the council's transport committee has now taken the decision to earmark the land.

Lothian Buses had originally rejected the plan amid concerns about "operational constraints", but has now thrown its weight behind the idea.

Bill Campbell, Lothian Buses' operations director, said: "As the area's principal bus operator we would welcome any additional park and ride sites.

"The ones we operate from have proved to be very successful and growth has been very encouraging. The geography of Edinburgh is ideally suited to support more park and ride sites and we warmly support the City of Edinburgh's proposal for a site at Gilmerton."

It is thought the existing bus services - 3/3A and 29 - would serve the park and ride site.

Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, the city's transport convener, said: "Our park and ride sites around Edinburgh offer commuters a high quality and reliable alternative to taking their cars into the city, helping to reduce congestion and journey times, while cutting harmful emissions.

"The more established sites, Hermiston and Ingliston, continue to perform exceptionally well while the growth in demand for our newer sites, Sheriffhall and Straiton, remains steady and in line with expectations."

He added: "We have assessed a number of potential sites with a view to expanding our provision as and when we have the funding in place to do so. The Gilmerton site fits the bill and it makes sense to protect it for future use."

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The city's park and ride sites have grown in popularity in the last few years, with transport bosses crediting them for slowly changing driver behaviour.

There are also ongoing discussions about a site at Lothianburn in Midlothian and proposals for a park and ride next to the new 2 billion Forth crossing at South Queensferry.

The existing park and ride sites run by the city council are at Ferrytoll, Ingliston, Sheriffhall, Hermiston, Newcraighall and Straiton.

Earlier this year council bosses were criticised by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for not having enough sites for travelling people after gypsies set up home at Straiton park and ride.