Drivers facing more delays as Scotland's traffic hits 6-year high

Frustrated drivers are enduring worsening congestion on Scotland's roads after traffic levels reached a record high last year.

Buses have seen a 10 per cent fall in passenger numbers over five years. Picture: Greg Macvean
Buses have seen a 10 per cent fall in passenger numbers over five years. Picture: Greg Macvean

There were 44.8 billion kilometres of journeys made by vehicles across all of Scotland’s roads last year, official figures revealed yesterday. This was up by almost one billion on the previous year and a new peak.

It has left Scots facing growing delays behind the wheel on congested roads with about 11.7 per cent of journeys delayed in 2014, according to drivers. This is a six-year high in congestion faced by drivers.

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But the car is more popular than ever among Scots as usage hit a seven-year high in 2014 with more cars then ever on Scotland’s roads.

Fewer Scots are commuting to work on the bus, which has seen a fall in passenger numbers of 10 per cent over the past five years.

But a growing number are using the train with passenger numbers up by a fifth in the same period. More than 92 million passenger journeys were made on ScotRail services – an increase of six million.

Transport minister Derek Mackay said: “While there has been a small decline in bus use, we have remained committed to supporting bus services through the £240 million made available through the Bus Service Operators Grant and Concessionary Bus Travel. We are also pushing forward with the introduction of Smart ticketing which will be rolled out across more transport services going forward.”

There were 24.1 million air passenger at Scottish airports in 2014, an annual increase of 3.6 per cent. It has prompted campaigners to warn against SNP plans to cut airline taxes to boost passenger numbers.

Mike Robinson of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland said: “It is utterly unnecessary to abandon APD [Air Passenger Duty].”

Environmentalists are also urging the Scottish Government to invest more in walking and cycling.

Sarah Beattie-Smith of the Greens called for a commitment to “clean, affordable transport”. She said: “Year after year, the Scottish Government has shied away from the bold action on transport that Scotland desperately needs. Instead, they’ve focused on short-term and short-sighted policies that benefit the few, not the many.”

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She said: “The Scottish Green Party has consistently called for meaningful investment in public transport infrastructure so people across Scotland can benefit from affordable, accessible and reliable public transport instead of being forced to take the car or being excluded from society.

“Low-cost, low-carbon transport such as walking and cycling also deserves much stronger investment for the benefit of our health and our environment.”