I was delighted to see Edinburgh Labour’s manifesto launched yesterday. The next ten years or so will see 55,000 new homes built in Edinburgh, and many more will be constructed in the surrounding local authority areas.
These homes, and the people that live in them, will put huge pressure on our capital. In Edinburgh we will have to ensure that they come with, for example, GPs and school capacity, and good transport links. Labour’s manifesto tackles this head on.
Giving people in these new developments in and around Edinburgh access to viable alternatives to using the car is essential if our city is to thrive. Our Capital is already one of the most congested cities in the UK, and this impacts on the economy and our wellbeing.
I hope that the next 10 years will see a significant increase in active travel in our Capital, but I feel that public transport has the potential to deliver a real step change on the path to making Edinburgh a more liveable city.
Our first aim must be to ensure that all developments are on good quality public transport routes, and residents can meet their day-to-day needs within a 20 minute walk of their home. This is how things used to be!
Perhaps more importantly, however, is to work collaboratively with surrounding local authorities to reduce commuter traffic coming into Edinburgh. Pre-covid, 63,300 people were commuting into Edinburgh every day by car. We have to reduce this number, and I feel providing reliable and efficient public transport links into Edinburgh is key. Where possible, I would hope that the aim is people completing their whole journey via public transport, but I am also open to more investment in Park & Ride schemes.
Whilst some may question the manifesto, I hope we can all agree that we can’t drive our way out of the challenge these new homes will bring.