East Lothian Multi-hubs given the green light

Tuesday November 10th 2020

East-Lothian-Council


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Ambitious plans to introduce public transport hubs across East Lothian have been given the go-ahead, with a pilot due to be introduced as soon as Covid rules allow.

The multi-hubs project aims to ensure every resident in the county lives within walking distance of an access point for public transport.

The plans will see a £30,000 trial get under way in Musselburgh once guidelines over using public transport allow it.

Welcoming the move, Councillor Norman Hampshire, depute council leader and environment spokesperson, warned that the new hubs would have to offer people a quality alternative to using their cars.

He said: “The introduction of multi-hubs is a first step in the right direction for this council.

“They are not new, if we look at our Scandinavian neighbours they have had them for years.

“The car has become a secondary thing in many cities in these countries.

“People will do that here if we make the journey a quality experience; if it is not a quality experience, people will continue to use their cars.”

The idea of hubs is to provide a central location where people can access public transport and hire e-bikes, bicycles and car share, with a central app being developed to create a joined-up network among transport providers.

Major hubs will also include seating areas and free Wi-Fi connection, with standard hubs ranging from e-bike stands to car share points and bus stops.

The innovative proposals for future travel in the county aim to make sure that every household is within walking distance of a standard hub, with major hubs in easy driving distance.

Incentives to car share using pick-up points could include priority car park spaces for people who take part at the hubs.

The pilot was due to start operating at The Brunton this winter but will be delayed until it is appropriate amid Covid restrictions on public transport, which also rules out car sharing if possible.

A report to cabinet by asset manager Peter Forsyth said:

“It is appreciated that introducing the concept of change to travel behaviour during a global pandemic, when the Scottish Government message is not to use public transport and only travel if absolutely necessary, appears to be a conflict.

“However, the programme will not actively promote the multi-hub proposal until it is reasonable to do so.”

The key to the success of the multi-hubs will be a journey planning app that the council is looking to develop through the Mass Innovation Fund alongside various companies which want to use the hub.

Most of the major hubs proposed following the Musselburgh trial will be centred at train stations or central bus interchange points such as Haddington High Street.

Subsidised taxi services are being considered for people who are unable to get to a hub by themselves either walking or on bicycle.

The pilot project was given the green light during a virtual cabinet meeting.

Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Provost, said he hoped the hubs would encourage people into town centres to shop locally and support the county’s businesses.

He called for public consultation to be at the heart of the hubs project, adding:

“There are some wonderful ideas coming in here and I know people who are interested in our town centres and climate change will want to be involved.”

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