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Targeting Traffic

We’re bringing together business leaders to influence how Scotland will meet its new 20% car traffic reduction target. We’re exploring which traffic reduction options will be most effective in cutting climate emissions, tackling congestion and ensuring the way we pay for our roads is fair and equitable, whilst supporting business and encouraging economic development. 

Our focus is on ‘demand management’ measures which affect the cost and convenience of driving, including road user pricing, parking levies and congestion charging. These measures will be essential to reduce traffic, but are often found to be the most controversial. 

Working together, we’ll get a better understanding of how business views the pros, cons and mitigations for different traffic demand management measures, leading to recommendations on a way forward for the Scottish Government’s traffic reduction plans.

Why traffic reduction?

Reducing traffic will benefit all of us – lower climate emissions, less congestion, healthier streets.

The Scottish Government has a target to reduce road traffic mileage by 20% by 2030 as part of its plan for ‘net zero’ climate emissions. Although the introduction of electric vehicles is helping to bring down climate emissions from transport, it’s not enough on its own to meet Scotland’s climate change targets. Traffic reduction is also essential. Furthermore, all traffic reduction measures will become increasingly important as based on current trends, the shift to electric vehicles is expected to lead to a further increase in traffic, with busier roads and slower journeys due to congestion. 

The Government’s ‘Route Map’ for meeting the 20% target presents a framework of measures to improve the quality, availability and affordability of alternatives to car use. These include measures to reduce the need to travel, for example by supporting remote working, and to encourage people to switch from the car by investing in public transport or providing better infrastructure for walking and cycling. 

The Route Map also recognises the need for measures to ‘discourage car use’ such as road user charging. The accelerating shift to electric vehicles is giving added urgency to the issue of road user pricing, as the switch to electric will rapidly deprive the UK Government of an essential source of revenue from fuel duty, unless replaced with an alternative such as road pricing. 

Moving to a different pricing system would also give Scotland the opportunity to introduce a more equitable form of motoring taxation that reduces the burden on lower income households. This is particularly pertinent given 2022’s record-breaking petrol prices.

Our action and impact

Research 

We’ve commissioned research from Edinburgh Napier University on five traffic demand management measures: Low Emission Zones (LEZs), workplace parking levies, congestion charging, national road user charging, and rural tourism measures such as national parks access charges. The research is examining the likely impact of measures in Scotland, with a particular focus on business issues.

Business roundtables

We’re organising roundtables with Scottish business organisations to capture feedback on the research findings. We aim to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of demand management options from a business point of view, leading to recommendations on a way forward for the Scottish Government’s traffic reduction plans. 

Cross Party Group on Sustainable Transport 

Transform Scotland provides the secretariat for the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Group on Sustainable Transport. The Group’s first area of work has been traffic demand management.

Get involved

If you’d like to find out more or be involved in our traffic reduction work, please contact the Programme Manager, Elspeth Wray, at elspeth.wray@transform.scot.