26 January 2011

S3M-7504 Car Sharing (North East Scotland)

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan): The final item of business today is a members’ business debate on motion S3M-7504, in the name of Alison McInnes, on getabout and liftshare. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.

Motion debated,

That the Parliament notes that, following the first ever liftshare week, membership of the UK-wide car-sharing network has now exceeded 400,000; further notes that car sharing, as well as bringing environmental benefits, can save participants money through shared travelling costs; congratulates liftshare on its recent success in the Contribution to the Community category at the Nectar Small Business Awards; considers outstanding the work of Getabout, a partnership between Nestrans, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, local universities and other organisations, in promoting better transport choices, including car sharing, in the north east, and believes that encouraging car sharing and other more sustainable transport options can play a key part in helping the transport sector to meet its share of Scotland’s climate change reduction targets.

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Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP):

I congratulate Alison McInnes on bringing the debate to the chamber. I know of her very personal interest in the matter over the long haul, as she was previously chair of the north east of Scotland transport partnership.

I have on my parliamentary desk two mugs with the getabout logo on them, because I attended the launch at Inverurie. It is fair to say that the best car journey is the one you do not make, but it is necessary to make car journeys. Sharing our journeys with others in rural areas is economic and addresses climate issues.

Alison McInnes referred to travel planning, for which there is a range of options. Traveline Scotland is now a well-established part of the landscape; I used it to find out how to get from my rural home in Banffshire to the Burns supper in West Kilbride at which I am speaking on Saturday night. I think that there are seven legs to the journey, but members can imagine the difficulties if I had not had access to automated ways of planning it.

In the old days there were other ways in which we could avoid driving our own cars. As a student in Aberdeen I used to hitch-hike regularly to get home to Cupar at the end of each term. It was not to save the planet, of course—it was mainly to save my wallet. Many of us used to do that, but it is no longer a popular way of doing things as there are real concerns about safety.

A structured approach that gives people the opportunity in a controlled way to join up with others who are making similar journeys is something that we must encourage. Every time we get two people in a car there is a 50 per cent saving in costs and climate impacts.

Some significant ideas that are relevant include giving priority parking to car sharers. That type of facility would increase the attractiveness of the option and be worth publicising. Car pools organised by employers are another way of ensuring that we make the most of the commute that must be done.

Here in Edinburgh, on the very doorsteps of Parliament, we can see cars from the Edinburgh city car club, which is another part of the package. A Labour councillor with whom I worked in my previous role has given up his car, and was able to attest that he was saving some £3,000 a year and suffering no disadvantage whatsoever. I hope that such schemes will be extended across Scotland in due course, because if we have fewer vehicles on our roads there will be less impact on the infrastructure of our roads, less need to spend money on maintaining them and less need to invest in creating additional capacity. The benefits come at a primary level and at many secondary and tertiary levels as well.

It is important that we look at our successes. Co-operation between Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire now happens in a range of areas. We should look to that co-operation and ensure that the lessons are more widely learned. On that basis, it is timely that Alison McInnes has introduced the debate—and I will be interested to hear what the minister has to say about the future of such schemes.


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