Public Transport (Edinburgh)

Scottish Enterprise Tayside (Meetings) – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 13 March 2003.

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Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent 2:30, 13 March 2003

To ask the Scottish Executive what assistance it is giving City of Edinburgh Council in developing a cohesive and integrated public transport system. (S1O-6641)

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

I am sure that Margo MacDonald will join me in welcoming the £375 million that was announced last week for the City of Edinburgh Council—the biggest-ever commitment to Edinburgh's public transport system.

Photo of Margo MacDonald Margo MacDonald Independent

Absolutely. I think that the minister is terrific. I would think him even more terrific if he promised and earmarked money for the Borders rail link, but more of that later. I am concerned that the anti-congestion policies that, with the best of intentions, have been pursued so far have proved utterly unsuccessful. Given that any referendum on car congestion in Edinburgh will not be carried out until at least 2006, I am concerned that there is a gap. What will the Executive do to help the council to fill that gap?

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

I think that I made this point in answer to questions on the funding for the Transport Initiatives Edinburgh plans: it would be a mistake to think that the recent announcement was the only investment in public transport in Edinburgh. Edinburgh and the Lothians also did well out of the fifth and final round of the public transport fund, which will allow the city council to go ahead with other projects. For example, it will enable the doubling of the size of the park and ride on the north of the Forth bridge and the provision of new park and rides around Edinburgh. If Margo MacDonald's point is that Edinburgh cannot wait until 2006 but must make public transport improvements right away, I agree with her, but that is what we are doing.

Photo of Sarah Boyack Sarah Boyack Labour

I add my voice to those of Margo MacDonald and all my local colleagues in welcoming the massive amounts of money that the minister recently committed to trams and to the rail link to Edinburgh airport. It is quite right that time should be taken in designing the routes for those projects and in consulting local people on those, but during that process the minister must ensure that he focuses on investment. We need investment not only in park and rides but in bus services and in improving our local rail services. A great deal could be done with the local bus operators, the train companies and the city council.

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

Again, I can only agree. I remind colleagues that a new rail station will be opened later this year in Edinburgh Park, which is a business park in which tens of thousands of people are employed. Those are the kinds of developments that we need to see even in advance of trams.

Photo of Lord James Selkirk Lord James Selkirk Conservative

In developing a coherent and integrated transport system, what is the minister's best estimate as to the completion date for railway links to Edinburgh airport and Glasgow airport?

Photo of Iain Gray Iain Gray Labour

The dates are 2008 for Glasgow and 2010 for Edinburgh.