Transport Minister Humza Yousaf admitted in a speech at the opening of the new Edinburgh Gateway interchange, that the Scottish Government is still baffled as to why many Scots are using their own personal cars instead of public transport.
“Despite our millions of pounds of investment into marginal improvements to the Scottish public transport infrastructure, many Scots, especially in remote areas, are choosing to use their own private cars instead of buses or trains.
“Take this new facility, for example. We’ve now made it fractionally easier for commuters wishing to use the airport to get there without taking the car. Before, commuters would have had to take the train to Inverkeithing or Haymarket and change to a bus, but now they can take the train here and change to the tram service.”
When asked why the decision was made to build an interchange, rather than connecting the airport to the mainline railway (which runs right at the end of the airport’s runway, and has done since the airport opened), Minister Yousaf added:
“I don’t think people really want that. Scotland is a picturesque nation and frequent flyers and visitors alike will enjoy the added travel required. This will give them more time to enjoy the scenery. Plus, everyone gets a real kick out of knowing how much money they will contribute to the economy by using these services. That’s why the tram fare to and from the airport is 3 times the price of all others in the city.”
Other business leaders in Scotland are equally as stumped by this conundrum.
Gordon Dewar, CEO of Edinburgh Airport, was able to give a quick interview after his morning swim through the money in his bank vault:
“We here at Edinburgh Airport take the environment and pollution concerns very seriously. It’s why we are trying our best to discourage travelers bringing their own cars by levying “pollution charges” on drivers wishing to use the airport.
“We thought our “drop-off” charges and our premium pricing for the car park would be sufficient. However, despite our financial dis-incentives to dissuade people from parking in our 12 years old but somehow crumbling multi-storey, or making the signage confusing to all drivers to dupe them into parking in the premium parking section, people still keep coming. We’re considering hiring professional muggers to attack people who are seen leaving the car park.
“Personally, I think it’s laziness, but people still insist that taking their own car is still far cheaper and more practical than using the nation’s phenomenal public transport infrastructure.”
Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, has been equally vocal about discouraging private car use, and added:
“We here in Westminster are putting the squeeze on those pesky drivers who insist on owning cars by arbitrarily increasing the fuel duty every year. Frankly I’m surprised no one has cottoned on about this yet given the decreasing price of oil that everyone’s been harping on about. Besides, why would people want to have cars when we’ve got Crossrail and stuff like that coming?”
However, Mr Osbourne was suddenly and irreparably catatonic when it was explained to him that the UK extended beyond London, and that the London Underground’s Northern Line did not cover all parts of the UK.
On the right tracks
Humza Yousaf has been very vocally defensive of the rail network amid further accusations that Abellio is not fit to handle the Scotrail franchise.
“I don’t know why people are so angry about Abellio. I got on a train to Edinburgh last Saturday, during Christmas shopping season. There was also a match on at Murrayfield and people were complaining about the trains having insufficient coaches added despite the knowledge of this added pressure on the most popular services. There was plenty of space to stand in the corner by the toilet.
“People also complain to me about the cost of rail travel, claiming that it’s a ‘luxury travel’ option. I don’t know why people get so upset about train fares and how they’re more expensive than running a car. It’s far more expensive to put hundreds of people in the same vehicle at the same time than it is to have one person in a car.
“Moreover, every other product out there on the market wildly varies in price on an hourly basis on a whim. I bought a pint of milk in the shop this morning at rush hour, and it was £50, but if I were more organised and either bought it 6 months in advance or gone in earlier, it would’ve only been 60p. This is the way the world works.”
Minister Yousaf did acknowledge that rail companies could be doing more to encourage travelers to use the railways.
“Hopefully the planned 2% increase in rail fares in January will inspire more people to use the railways and leave the cars at home. The average person will see that rail companies really care for the environment and the Government’s carbon policies and aren’t just money-grabbing.
“We’re also rolling out a series of improvements across the country to help more people use the railways. We’re planning on spending millions on painting window frames, adding more whisky barrels that are converted into train-shaped flower boxes, and adding the Abellio logo to the rest of the livery.”
Responding to criticism that government investment into a joined-up infrastructure plan in Scotland was at best, lacklustre, Minister Yousaf got very defensive:
“People are so demanding in this country. It’s not like Britain invented the railways, or that Scotland built many of the British Empire’s steam engines in its heyday. You need to realise there’s a process. It’s really not like any other countries nearby have done this.
“Those people in remote communities, or large conurbations which are inexplicably without a railway station despite contributing literally millions into the local economy every year are just being spiteful. We have put on connecting buses to the local train station just 70 miles away, and they only take 3 hours to reach.”
When asked about the Government’s plan to reduce congestion in towns caused by increased road traffic, Minister Yousaf added:
“We feel it’s in the best interests to get these cars out of the towns. So we’re looking at various new road schemes that will circle the towns.
“We’ve also spent lots of money on park and ride solutions at nearby Inverkeithing and Dunfermline. Both are located right next to mainline railways that connect to Edinburgh and passengers can park their cars and take the bus.”
Sadly, Mr Yousaf seemed a little crestfallen by the criticism he received, and quietly slipped away the proposals for the Glasgow Airport self-driving pods (that would stop at the opposite side of the airport, but were self-driving and therefore cool) back into his briefcase.
Space Port Ayrshire
Meanwhile, Richard Jenner, CEO of Prestwick Airport, is still scratching his head as to why his tiny airport that flies to obscure destinations around Europe, is literally the only airport in Scotland to have its own railway station on the national rail network.
He was unavailable for comment, but we can only assume that when Prestwick becomes a space port, the railway station at Prestwick will be regularly used by commuters.
Jeff Hoogesteger, Abellio’s CEO, reaffirmed his commitment to helping Prestwick’s bid to host Scotland’s first space port by announcing that if this becomes a reality, Scotrail will re-livery one of its 30 year old trains with “some space graphics” so that people were in the mood when they board the train.