Edinburgh councillors have been urged to reconsider public transport as a solution rather than a problem.
This was after the removal of a bus lane recently.
Edinburgh Live reports that the return of pre-pandemic levels of traffic and more people flying abroad has meant the the 2.3-mile stretch between the Newbridge Roundabout and the airport has been hit with heavy congestion in recent weeks.
Edinburgh Airport raised concerns things could be made worse by live music concerts and the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston over the summer and Almond ward councillor Kevin Lang warned the current situation is “unsustainable”.
He added: “The Council had been warned for months that changes to the A8 risked gridlock when airport passengers numbers recovered following the pandemic. With only weeks to go until both the start of the school holidays and Royal Highland Show, there was a very real prospect of a summer of traffic chaos if nothing had been done.”
Officials confirmed following a meeting with Lothian Buses this week that a temporary bus lane installed along the route would be removed in response to the problems, five months before the expiration of the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) which was granted in 2020.
Scott Arthur, Edinburgh City Council’s transport convener, said: “It was always indicated that this particular section of bus lane would be removed as traffic returns to pre-pandemic levels and that this would be likely before the Highland Show.
“The delivery of temporary Bus Priority Measures along the A8 & A89 through the Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund has provided an opportunity to test bus priority measures, collect live data and deliver early benefits to operators, which was much needed during the pandemic.
“I am absolutely committed to improving public transport in Edinburgh, so I hope we can learn from this and I look forward to working in partnership with Edinburgh Airport to assist them in their efforts to become more sustainable.”
Councillor Norrie Work, SNP Councillor for Almond, stressed the council needs to ensure bus travel “remains the quickest and easiest method of travel into the city from the west”, adding congestion “will get steadily worse” if it’s not.
Greens co-convenor Claire Miller said there is “no denying that too many inefficient journeys are currently made in Edinburgh, and that congestion is dangerous and unwelcome”.
However, she added: “Cries of ‘traffic chaos’ and ‘gridlock’ from some councillors shows a lack of awareness that good quality public transport at affordable prices is the solution rather than the problem.
“The Council needs to work with bus companies to ensure fast and frequent bus services to Ingliston and the airport, which will only be achieved with dedicated priority space for buses.”
The move has also been met with criticism from the Edinburgh Bus Users Group (EBUG), which said the council has “completely lost sight of the need to encourage bus use” in recent years, said the Edinburgh Live report.
An EBUG spokesperson said: “First it cut bus lane hours, then it started cutting bus lanes. The Council’s default position for any local problem is to remove a bus stop, or a bus lane. Now the message is ‘wait for the West Edinburgh Transport Plan’. We’ve been waiting for five years.https://fe2dcf361bae677d65bc8576e514cc9a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html