Scottish government commits to reducing car use by 20%

The Scottish Government has committed to reducing car use in Scotland by 20% by 2030.

In a new route map published last week, the government has set out a range of sustainable travel behaviours grouped into four categories: 

  • travel less: use online options where appropriate
  • stay local: chose a more local destination to meet your needs
  • switch mode: to walk, wheel, cycle, or use public transport where possible
  • combine a journey: where the other options are not feasible

It contains 30 interventions to address use, many of which are already being delivered such as the rollout of free bus travel for under 22s. 

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: ‘The principle of a just transition is at the heart of our route map, supporting our work to tackle inequality and child poverty. We recognise that for some people reducing car use, especially in the short-term, will be more challenging – including disabled people and their families – but we also need to recognise the unfairness of a status quo where the ‘car is king’ and where car use is made too easy, at the expense of other healthier, fairer options.

‘We’re setting out a whole range of actions, some in the short term – like free bus travel for under-22s, Low Emission Zones and providing superfast broadband for 100% of premises – and some longer-term, including our work on demand management options including pricing and the cost of motoring. What’s absolutely crucial is that we all play our part and consider how we can modify our own behaviour and drive down car use for a healthier, fairer, greener future.’

timelapse photo of street during day time

However, Friends of the Earth Scotland have criticised the route map, calling it nothing more than a ‘rehash of existing policies. 

Transport Campaigner Gavin Thomson said: ‘The Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce the number of kilometers travelled by car by 20% is absolutely essential for addressing climate change. Transport is our biggest source of emissions in Scotland and our car-centric decision making has been devastating for sustainable transport.

‘The route map that sets out how this will be achieved is a long list of the measures already introduced by the Scottish Government. This is a rehash of existing policies that doesn’t address the fundamental issues.

‘People in Scotland are overpaying for a public transport system we don’t control. We need to take public transport back into our hands, and make it free for everyone. Without that level of ambition, we won’t reduce car use or climate emissions.

‘The review of the planning system in Scotland which is currently taking place is a great opportunity to make real changes to how we move around. Ideas like turning car parks into public parks or changing density requirements for urban developments could change how we think about transport. But so far these ideas are absent from the Government’s plans.’


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