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Still no clarity over active travel spend

Published 19 February 2015 by Colin Howden

A parliamentary question submitted by Green MSP Alison Johnstone has established that there is still no clarity about how much the Scottish Government will invest in active travel (walking and cycling) in 2015-16.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay’s answer to the parliamentary question (PQ S4W-24376) establishes the following:

Total: Of which, for active travel:
Support for Sustainable and Active Travel (SAT) £25m £0 – £25m
Additional funds announced in final budget debate £3.9m £3.9m
Cycling, Walking & Safer Streets (CWSS) funding £8m £8m
Future Transport Fund £20.25m £0 – £20.25m
Total expenditure on active travel in 2015-16: £11.9m – £57.15m


The wide ranges in the right-hand column are because the answer to the PQ still provides no clarity on how much from these funds will actually be spent on active travel.

What we do know is that the overall transport budget in 2015-16 (according to the draft Budget) is £2,080.1m.

So, based upon the answer given by the Transport Minister,  the overall expenditure on active travel could be anything between 0.6% and 2.7% of the overall transport budget.

Transport Scotland, on the other hand, confidently stated on Twitter yesterday (19 February) that the spend on active travel will make up 2.5% of the overall transport budget:

They must know something that the Transport Minister doesn’t.

For a 2.5% figure to be reached, £54m of the overall £2,080.1m transport budget will have to be spent on active travel. That will of course mean that a maximum of £3.15m of the £57.15m listed by the Transport Minister be spent on car clubs, greener buses, travel planning, etc.

Unless of course Transport Scotland are telling fibs…


Update on Friday 20 February:

Transport Scotland this morning issued an apology, clarifying that the claim that 2.5% of the transport budget went on active travel was inaccurate. So not fibbing, just being misleading.

Perhaps it’s not surprising to see Transport Scotland not being able to understand its own budget given its opaqueness. Of course, such confusion could be avoided by the Scottish Ministers putting a separate line for active travel spend in the Scottish Budget — something that they’ve been told to do for some years now by the Scottish Parliament’s transport committee.