Call for review of Princes Street traffic

by Richard Morgan

Lothian Buses have called for a review of the re-routing of the bus service and other vehicles at the risk of exceeding the European Union’s set pollution limits.

The proposal by the council and Tram service aims to reduce Princes Street from a six lane road to just two lanes in order to allow the trams to run freely. The traffic being redirected will have a new route through a residential area, increasing noise pollution, reducing air quality and affecting schools. Professor A. Lloyd informed the Council Chambers that this move would affect “130,000 homes by 2026” and that their research found the “fastest evolution of pollution with the move.” Describing the proposal as a time bomb for pollution, he pushed members of the council to consider the evidence.

Ralph Fraser, a representative for Lothian Buses, also questioned the Council as to why Princes Street would be inaccessible 24 hours a day, even though the trams would not be operating for this period. Fraser went on to question as to why the two year proposal that had been put forward previously had been rejected. He was met with a response that “It was still being considered.”

Members of the Council quizzed Professor Lloyd in regards to his research and if comparative work had been carried out. He responded that tram systems throughout the UK and Europe already co-existed with traffic harmoniously, but that he did not know every system, and could not understand why traffic “co-existing with trams was an issue.”

Members also brought to the attention of Professor Lloyd and Mr Fraser that Edinburgh University had dismissed the issues of increased pollution in these areas, but Professor Lloyd responded that the question was a narrow one, with no evidence to support this and he would be happy to present his findings publically.

The council have asked Mr Fraser and Professor Lloyd to return in March 2011 with their full findings before making a final decision.

The proposal will see six lanes being reduced to only two.