How can Scottish businesses help shape the agenda for traffic reduction?
That was the question posed at our Traffic Summit, where we brought together Scottish business leaders to discuss what measures such as national road user pricing, congestion charging and workplace parking levies might mean for Scottish businesses, and the role of the business community in tackling traffic.
The clear message from our audience was that businesses are keen to play their part in tackling traffic, combating climate change and making our communities safer, greener places. But they need help to get there, particularly at a time when the cost-of-living crisis, on top of the fallout from Brexit and the covid pandemic, is creating a really challe nging economic environment. Business leaders also underlined the importance of incentives, whether that’s better public transport or creating a healthier, more active workforce.
A second key message was the importance of good data on the impacts of different traffic reduction measures, before making decisions about what route to take. The participation of Edinburgh Napier University in the Traffic Summit was therefore warmly welcomed. The University unveiled new research into international experiences of low emission zones, workplace parking levies, national park car access charges, congestion charging and road user pricing, and what these might mean for Scotland.
A third theme of the Traffic Summit was timing. How long would it take to implement something like congestion charging? And how would action in Scotland tie in with potential UK-wide action on road pricing?
We were delighted that Minister for Transport Jenny Gilruth MSP was able to attend the Summit, to set out the Scottish Government’s traffic reduction plans and address some of these issues.
Alongside Richard Llewellyn from Edinburgh Napier University, our other speakers were Rachel Cook from the Federation of Small Businesses, Bill Smith from Arup and Gareth Williams from the Scottish Council for Development and Industry.
Our next step is to package up the key messages from the Traffic Summit, together with the findings from research we’ve been doing with business groups, and use this evidence to influence the Scottish Government’s traffic reduction policies.