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Edinburgh ‘pay-as-you-go’ road pricing features in space reallocation strategy

Deniz Huseyin
08 February 2024

A ‘pay as you go’ road user charge for central Edinburgh is among City Council proposals to create healthier transport links and support net zero 2030 goals.

The Our Future Streets plan examines how space is allocated on the city’s streets, focusing on neighbourhoods, key transport corridors and the city centre. This seeks to deliver the aims and objectives of the council’s City Mobility Plan (CMP), which envisions sustainable, safe and effective movement of people and goods around Edinburgh.

City of Edinburgh said the ‘pay as you go’ scheme would involve a road user charge where drivers pay to use certain roads. The aim is to reduce the number of cars in a city through economic disincentives, encouraging drivers to switch to public transport, walking/wheeling and cycling. Revenue generated from pay as you drive schemes can be used to improve sustainable travel modes, said the council.

In Spring 2022, the Scottish Government consulted on a Route Map to achieve a 20% reduction in car kilometres by 2030 with interventions framed around reducing the need to travel, living well locally, switching to sustainable travel modes, and combining/sharing trips.

The Scottish Government’s final Route Map and supporting research on road user charging are expected later this year and will support a national Car Demand Management Framework by 2025.

Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “I know that many people in Edinburgh can’t afford a car or are not able to drive - making it easier for these residents to move around Edinburgh is at the heart of these plans.

“We’ve learnt lessons from progressive cities around the world who are adopting strategic approaches to redesigning their streets and networks. Reallocating space, where possible, will support transport options designed for everyone, as well as delivering the most attractive and competitive environments for businesses to operate in.”

Responses to market research undertaken during the council’s ‘Actions to Deliver Edinburgh’s City Mobility Plan’ consultation in 2023 showed 64% support for investigating more restrictions to through-traffic in the city centre said Arthur. “Our proposals for the city centre build on Edinburgh City Centre Transformation to further reduce traffic whilst improving public transport, with short term trial measures to help test the impacts on the wider city.”

In a 2005 referendum, three in one Edinburgh residents voted against introducing congestion charges across the Scottish capital.

Under the proposals, motorists across the city would have paid £2 for driving their cars during the morning rush hour and £2 for entering the inner zone in the city centre until 6.30pm. The non-payment fine was set at £60.

Our Future Streets – a circulation plan for Edinburgh


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