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Moving the Vote: Analysis of transport in Holyrood party manifestos

Published 26 April 2021 by Transform Scotland

We have today published our report ‘Moving the Vote: Sustainable transport in the party manifestos for the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections’. The report sets out our analysis of transport in the manifestos of the five main political parties standing in the 6 May Scottish Parliament elections.

Transport is the largest source of climate emissions in Scotland, and Transform’s analysis looks at the credibility of the parties’ manifestos in tackling the Climate Emergency. Our overall conclusion is that while all parties say climate is a priority, few set out a credible platform to tackle the largest source of emissions.

The report is available at

Transform director Colin Howden said:

“We have deep concerns regarding the credibility of the parties’ commitments on transport. Whether one wants new roads or new railways, new decarbonised public transport fleets or free public transport, somebody is going to have to pay for these things – and we see nothing in these manifestos that demonstrates that the parties have clearly articulated plans for how this will be delivered.

“Only the Greens come forward with new transport pricing policies, suggesting both a Frequent Flyer Levy and support for road pricing and parking levies at the local level. At the other extreme, the Tories’ manifesto contains a long wishlist of infrastructure schemes – but, in a manifesto which contains numerous commitments to tax cuts, it is difficult to be anything but sceptical about the viability of its proposals.

“We can only join the SNP in its desire for a ‘Green Transport Revolution’. Its manifesto includes many of the policies that are indeed needed for delivering such a transformation, but the credibility of its claims here are not defensible while it continues to promote unlimited new road-building and sets out no credible policies for the traffic demand management that will be required to deliver its commitment to cut traffic levels by 20% by 2030.

“Whoever wins this election, what we need to see is detailed and specific plans for climate emission reduction from the transport sector, and less empty rhetoric about ‘transport revolutions’, green or otherwise.”

Transform’s analysis has been carried out against a set of ten criteria:

* Active travel provision
* 20 minute neighbourhoods
* Zero-emission bus & rail
* Decarbonising ferries
* Anglo-Scottish air-rail substitution
* Long-haul freight by rail
* Investing in digital connectivity
* Investing in road maintenance over building new roads
* Demand management
* Making public transport cheaper than car use

Publication of Transform’s manifesto analysis also follows the completion of a series of ‘Moving The Vote’ events held featuring transport spokespeople from each of the five parties, the recordings of which are featured online. See

The final event in this series, which featured current Scottish Government transport minister Michael Matheson was held on Friday last week: