Transport in and around Edinburgh
In keeping with its status as the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh has excellent transport links to, from and around it. Ironically two of the most famous transport links associated with Edinburgh - The Forth Road Bridge and The Forth Rail Bridge - are actually about 5 km north-west of the city at Queensferry. However, these two iconic bridges are vital to transport links heading north and south from Edinburgh, enabling traffic to get across the Firth of Forth without having to detour all the way along the estuary to Stirling.
Getting to and from Edinburgh:
Most road traffic heading for Edinburgh will arrive at the south-western edge of the city on the M8 motorway. The M8 links with the M9 bringing traffic from the north and the M74 that carries traffic into the Central Lowlands of Scotland from the border with England. The journey west to Glasgow on the M8-A8 takes about 1 hour, whilst the 650km (405 miles) to London can be done in about 71/2 hours. However, allowing over 8 hours is probably more realistic. I’d certainly recommend consulting the Traffic Scotland and UK Highways Agency websites before setting off, to find out what road works are likely to cause delays.
Edinburgh has a new bus station in St Andrew Square, which is at the east end of Princes Street. This is used by long distance coach companies like Scottish CityLink, who operate many coach services to various destinations in Scotland. Their service between Glasgow and Edinburgh can take less than 11/4 hours and costs less than £6.00 for a single ticket. To travel to or from London by coach the National Express services are very popular. Their fastest services are the ‘red eye’ ones, which take about 83/4 hours and cost from £15 for a single ticket.
Whilst Edinburgh has one main railway station - Waverley - many train services also stop at the Haymarket station, in the west of the city not far from the Murrayfield Stadium. Waverley Station, is in the centre of the city at the east end of Princes Street and is one of the most famous in the UK, being associated with the legendary ‘Flying Scotsman’ service. National Express East Coast now operates the lucrative railway routes connecting London and Edinburgh. Today the 10:00 from London Kings Cross takes about 4 hours 20 minutes; by rail the distance is 630 km (392 miles) and the service makes only four stops on its way north. To take advantage of low pricing on a train ticket to or from London you’ll need to book well in advance of your travel date(s). First ScotRail operates train services inside Scotland whilst Arriva CrossCountry Trains now run the services from Edinburgh to most other English and Welsh destinations.
To the west of the city is Edinburgh International Airport. Whilst the airport does operate flights to North America and North Africa, it is really more concerned with domestic and European flights. You can fly to London Heathrow for under £40 in a journey time of 11/2 hours. However, you need to add on to that the time and cost of travelling to and from city centres to the airports. By comparison the express train services are often excellent value, especially considering the time that can be wasted in airports.
Travel in and around Edinburgh:
For a capital city driving around and through Edinburgh is actually a pleasant experience. Drivers are usually very careful, patient and considerate toward other road users and pedestrians. City driving in Edinburgh is quite straightforward and flows well, but there is a reason why roads rarely get snarled up. Unlike so many other cities selfish or uncaring parking is rarely seen and there’s a reason for this. Quite simply don’t park - even for a few seconds - somewhere that you’re not supposed to; you will get a ‘ticket’ or even worse see your car towed away.
Public bus transport in Edinburgh is operated by two main service providers: Lothian Buses, who operate a £1 fixed price adult ticket for any journey within the city and First Group - South East & Central Scotland, who operate services in the city and surrounding region. There are two Park & Ride services operating from the west side of the city, both of which have express services into the city centre. Mainly to the west of the city centre there are 10 commuter train stations, complementing the bus network in providing local transport options for the citizens of Edinburgh. By 2010 their will also be a tram service in Edinburgh, further developing public transport options in the city.
Cycling in Edinburgh can be tough as it is a hilly city. However, the considerate drivers make cycling in Edinburgh a safer option than in many other UK cities, plus the fact that Edinburgh really is one of the nicest cities to be in. However, if cycling were to prove too much for you, their are Hackney cab taxis you can hail in plentiful supply, as are private hire taxis that you can pre-book.