Workplace charging regimes and other traffic reduction measures can win the support of businesses if properly designed and focused on areas of strong economic activity, a report by Transform Scotland has found.
The report details a positive response to engagement with business leaders around policies designed to encourage a shift to more sustainable modes of transport but said it was vital that businesses were involved in designing and supporting these policies.
Traffic reduction is integral to the Scottish Government’s climate change targets, which will not be met unless it delivers upon its commitment to reduce traffic levels by 20% by 2030.
Transform’s report, ‘Tackling Traffic’, has the following key themes:
- Putting business in the driving seat: proactively involve the business community in conversations and proposals for traffic reduction.
- Reinvesting in public transport: use the revenue from traffic charges or levies to improve public transport.
- Assessing the impacts of traffic demand management measures: provide more data on economic impacts.
- Targeting the right journeys: ensure that traffic reduction measures are fair, equitable and evidence-driven, and take account of differences between local economies and businesses.
The report is available here.
Transform Scotland board member Damien Henderson writes in the report foreword:
“Gridlocked traffic not only damages the environment and our health, it clogs up the transport arteries businesses need to get people to work and goods to market. A shift from road to more sustainable modes, if correctly planned, can help businesses prosper.
“As research from Edinburgh Napier University and our subsequent business engagement has demonstrated, we found that there are policies available which both cut congestion whilst supporting economic growth and that business leaders want to drive this change.
“To achieve this, we need to ensure we have policies that are evidence-driven and take account of the impacts – both positive and negative – on companies large and small as well as geographic differences. A workplace charging regime, for instance, may work in a large city centre with good public transport but is unlikely to help smaller cities and towns.”
Rachel Cook, Deputy Head of Policy at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) commented:
“Small businesses rely significantly on both their access to the road network, and to public transport, whether it is to make deliveries, keep the supply chain moving, or to get employees to the workplace. Therefore any measures designed to reduce traffic need to be undertaken with the full involvement and consent of local businesses. This is now more important than ever given that small businesses are currently navigating some of the most difficult trading environments in decades.”
Gareth Williams, Head of Policy at the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) said:
“Transport mobility is an essential enabler of economic activity by businesses, but traffic gridlock costs businesses millions of pounds every year in higher costs and lost productivity. Business shares the Government’s aim of tackling congestion, but Scotland’s 20% car km reduction target is simply not yet on their radar in the difficult economic climate.
“We agree that national road user charging which replaces fuel duty and vehicle excise duty is more likely to be seen as fair and user-friendly by businesses than a piecemeal patchwork of local measures. Traffic reduction can support business success and businesses can be a catalyst for change – but only if Government steps up collaboration to make it work for businesses.”
Alongside the Transform report, we are also publishing a research report commissioned from Edinburgh Napier University which looks at the implications of traffic demand management measures for businesses. In summary, the Napier research finds that:
- Traffic demand management measures (such as workplace parking levies, congestion charging, road pricing) can bring about traffic reduction, and can therefore play a role in supporting the Scottish Government’s traffic reduction route map.
- These measures work best when introduced as part of a package including transport network improvements.
- Ring-fencing of revenue and clear objectives for any scheme are critical to public and business community acceptance.
- No “one size fits all” approach exists, with measures likely only to be appropriate in cities and regions with the appropriate business demographic.
- A National Road User Charging scheme is likely to be required imminently to replace Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Duty as the shift to electric vehicles accelerates.
The Napier report is available here.
NOTES TO EDITORS
 Transform Scotland
Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, uniting grassroots campaign groups, environment charities, walking and cycling organisations, local authorities and universities. See transform.scot for details.
The Transform report, ‘Tackling Traffic’, is available at https://transform.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Tackling-Traffic-Transform-Scotland-November-2022.pdf.
 Edinburgh Napier University
Edinburgh Napier University’s Transport Research Institute is Scotland’s largest and longest established transport research group. See https://www.napier.ac.uk/research-and-innovation/research-search/centres/transport-research-institute for further information.
Napier’s report for Transform (‘Assessment of demand management measures to reduce road traffic in Scotland: implications for business’) is available at https://transform.scot/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/TR102-TDM-in-Scotland-Report.pdf.
Napier’s report contains the following findings (summarised above):
- All transport demand management measures reviewed were associated with traffic reduction, except for Low Emission Zones where conclusive evidence was not found.
- The most effective schemes are part of a package of measures, comprising the transport demand management itself, combined with complementary transport network improvements.
- Hypothecation of revenue and clear objectives for any scheme are critical to public and business community acceptance.
- No “one size fits all” approach exists, with measures likely to be only appropriate in cities and regions with the appropriate business demographic, for example high numbers of large employers (Workplace Parking Levy) or cost sensitive car drivers (Congestion Charging)
- Transport demand management in rural areas is highly challenging, due to low public acceptance, impracticality, limited public transport alternatives and potential diversion of business to other areas.
- A National Road User Charging scheme is likely to be required imminently to replace Vehicle Excise Duty and Fuel Duty as the shift to electric vehicles accelerates. Opportunities exist with this scheme to contribute to road traffic reduction, albeit current proposals are for a revenue-neutral approach UK wide.
- The transport demand management measures reviewed have the potential to support the Scottish Government’s car traffic reduction route map.
 Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI)
The Scottish Council for Development and Industry is a non-political not-for-profit independent membership network, representing a cross-section of the private, public and social organisations, which seeks to influence Government and key stakeholders to ensure sustainable inclusive economic growth everywhere in Scotland. See https://www.scdi.org.uk/about/ for further information.
 Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
Established over 45 years ago to help its members succeed in business, FSB is a non-profit making and non-party political organisation that’s led by members, for members. See https://www.fsb.org.uk/about-us.html for further information.