This Scottish city has the worst congestion in the UK, says study

Traffic queuing in Edinburgh.
Traffic queuing in Edinburgh.
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Motorists in Edinburgh face the worst traffic queues in the country, according to a new report revealing the city as the most congested in the UK.

Drivers spend as much as 40 per cent longer on the city’s choked roads during the average rush hour journey compared to the equivalent outside peak road use times, figures released by sat nav manufacturer TomTom found.

Edinburgh topped the UK list ahead of London, Bournemouth, Hull and Belfast, placing it in the top 30 cities for worldwide congestion. The report comes as debate continues to rage over a raft of radical new measures to greatly reduce car usage in some of Edinburgh’s most popular streets, including making many one-way or closed off to vehicles completely.

Heiko Schilling, head of navigation at TomTom, said an increase in job opportunities in the city was partly to blame for the rise of congested streets.

He said: “Data from Edinburgh Economy Watch shows that Scotland’s capital saw an increase in employment of 4.2 per cent over the course of 2018. That equates to 12,500 extra jobs over the previous year, but it also means more commuters, which is why we’re not surprised that Auld Reekie has seen an increase in congestion and longer journey times.” Tentative discussions have recently re-emerged over the introduction of a “congestion charge” as the local authority continues to explore ways to take action on air pollution. The idea was initially floated in 2005 when the introduction of fees for driving in certain parts of the city centre was put to the public, but soundly defeated in a referendum by more than 80,000 votes. The ambitious introduction of a low emission zone, effectively banning vehicles that fail to meet strict emission standards from the city centre, has also been touted.

Edinburgh Greens’ transport spokesperson Councillor Chas Booth said: “This is a shocking report and underlines the urgent need to cut the number of cars on the capital’s streets.

“The council is taking some steps in the right direction, but we urgently need bolder action, including an improved low emission zone, a workplace parking levy and serious investment in walking, cycling and public transport.”

While Edinburgh rose to 27th in the world rankings for 2018, congestion in Glasgow fell by 1 per cent over the same time period.

However, the capital was some way behind gridlocked Mumbai, Bogota and Lima in the global league table.

Friends of the Earth Scotland air pollution campaigner Gavin Thomson said more needed to be done to Edinburgh’s streets safer to breathe in, adding: “Toxic and illegal levels of air pollution in Edinburgh cause 200 early deaths each year, with a number of streets across the city breaking legal limits that should have been met years ago.”