News from Scotland
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Boyack heralds revolution in transport policy
Source: The Scotsman
Publication date: 2000-12-21
BETTER choices in public transport and radical measures to cut congestion in
city centres were promised as the Scottish parliament approved the first
transport bill in a generation.
After 18 months the Transport (Scotland) Bill is expected to became law in
It was hailed by Sarah Boyack, the transport minister, as a change to make a
"real difference to transport in Scotland."
But the Scottish Tories underlined their continuing opposition to the "whole
concept" of city centre tolls and road charging schemes.
David McLetchie, the Tory leader, moved an unsuccessful amendment requiring
any congestion charging scheme to be approved by parliament.
"We can then judge whether any proposed charging scheme will reduce
congestion or whether it is simply the tax raising scam I very much fear
will prove to be the case," he said.
Ms Boyack stressed that the point of the legislation was to give councils
themselves the choice of whether or not to introduce charges.
Traffic was projected to rise by 50 per cent over the next 30 years and
congestion was an issue that urban local authorities needed to address, the
Under the new legislation, councils will be able to set up so- called home
zones - areas where speed limits are cut and where safe play areas are
designated for children. Speed restrictions in these areas could be cut to
The measures will provide free bus travel within local authority areas for
the elderly and disabled.
A national transport timetable and "through ticketing" schemes will aim to
co-ordinate public transport journeys and make travel simpler.
Councils will be encouraged to work together on joint transport strategies
with their neighbouring authorities. There will be powers to encourage
Minimum standards are to be set for bus operators in a bid to improve the
reliability of services and the quality of buses.
Ms Boyack said : "Everyone wants better transport, less congestion, better
bus services, well maintained roads and improved links for our businesses
are all key concerns.
A successful amendment allowing for the setting up of home zones was moved
by Liberal Democrat MSP for Gordon, Nora Radcliffe, who said these areas
would improve communities and cut down on accidents.
"Children living in disadvantaged areas where there is less likely to be a
garden to play in are five times more likely to be killed," she said.
A proposal by Robin Harper, Green MSP saying the bill should include a
commitment to reduce road traffic levels by 10 per cent within 10 years was
The SNP transport spokesman, Bruce Crawford, criticised the bill for failing
to take the chance to deliver a properly integrated system of transport,
involving roads, rail and ferries.
However, the measures were agreed unanimously to cheers and applause from
MSPs in the chamber.
Publication date: 2000-12-21
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