The Key Ideas

#53 Institute a 'nextgen' transport strategy to prepare Scotland now for rapidly developing transport technologies

Another area that demands serious consideration for future planning is transport. Scotland's transport infrastructure falls well behind its continental comparators. In fact, there is a strong argument to say that by the time Scotland put in enough investment to catch up with the European norm on transport infrastructure, Europe would have moved on and we'd be as far behind as before. This is a crucial area where we should take a 'nextgen' strategy: recognise that to catch up with best practice we need to skip a generation of technology, and thus approach and start planning for the one that comes after that.

A Transport Policy Academy should be established, in the open and participative model as is the case with these Academies (as discussed in chapter six). It should immediately be tasked with producing a major report on possible transport models for the next generation of transport in Scotland. There are many questions it would want to consider. How do we transition to electric transport and what infrastructure is needed? What transport requirements would Scotland need if it achieved a more disaggregated economy with much more robust local economies? What does the future of city centre transport look like and how should it work? Can Scotland greatly improve its use of marine transport and what would that mean? How can we strengthen international transport links?


In all of this, the role of reducing climate change emissions from the transport system would be central, as well as the role of transport in strengthening communities and reducing the reliance on private cars for mobility. The potential for economic impact through capturing any viable technology development and manufacture in Scotland would also be a particular focus.


Possible outcomes might include a vision of our cities replacing busses with driverless cars coordinated via mobile devices, or using some of the health budget to develop comprehensive and safe cycling infrastructure, as Copenhagen achieved in the 70s and 80s. It might include substantial investment in creating car charging infrastructure across Scotland. It might include an investment in overseas shipping links, or ways to better connect the Scottish islands to the wider economy, or inexpensive municipal car rental services to reduce the need to own a car. The aim would be to have this in place and then to develop it as a more detailed plan in time for the following parliamentary term.