Traffic surpasses pre-pandemic levels in Scotland leading to calls for Clean Air Zones

New data shows that daily traffic levels in Edinburgh and Glasgow are now higher than pre-pandemic levels, sparking fears about air quality. 

It comes the day after official government figures showed car use across Great Britain hit pre-pandemic levels after the easing of lockdown 3.0 last week.

Daily traffic in Edinburgh is 7% higher in comparison to February 2020, with Glasgow reporting traffic levels of 4% higher than those pre-pandemic, according to data sourced by Siemens Mobility Limited in partnership with HERE Technologies,

With the Scottish Government easing COVID-19 restrictions with plans to open up the country further in the coming weeks, there are concerns about further air pollution increases as people move around more freely. 

The findings also show that the Winter 2021 lockdown had a far smaller impact on traffic compared to the first lockdown in Spring 2020. The data shows that traffic levels in these cities were more than 90% of pre-pandemic levels in February 2021. In contrast, the first lockdown saw traffic levels more than halve in both cities when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Despite these trends, both Edinburgh and Glasgow have taken the decision to pause the implementation of Clean Air Zones.

Wilke Reints, Managing Director Intelligent Traffic Systems at Siemens Mobility Limited, commented: “It’s been well documented that the COVID-19 pandemic had an almost instant positive effect on air quality. However, this latest data shows that levels have quickly bounced back, despite stringent restrictions in Scotland.

“This raises a concern as to the potential increase in traffic and associated emissions with cities reporting air quality levels at least comparable to, or in this case worse than, pre-lockdown levels.”

He continued: “The traffic levels documented in Edinburgh and Glasgow surpass pre-COVID levels and this follows a similar trend across the UK. Air quality is the most significant environmental risk to human health and both cities must continue to address this problem by continuing to progress Clean Air Zone plans to protect the health of the public.”

Siemens Mobility is a separately managed company of Siemens AG. As a leader in transport solutions for more than 160 years, Siemens Mobility is constantly innovating its portfolio in its core areas of rolling stock, rail automation and electrification, turnkey systems, intelligent traffic systems as well as related services. With digitalization, Siemens Mobility is enabling mobility operators worldwide to make infrastructure intelligent, increase value sustainably over the entire lifecycle, enhance passenger experience and guarantee availability. In fiscal year 2020, which ended on September 30, 2020, Siemens Mobility posted revenue of €9.1 billion and had around 38,500 employees worldwide. Further information is available at:

HERE Technologies, a location data and technology platform, moves people, businesses and cities forward by harnessing the power of location. By leveraging our open platform, we empower our customers to achieve better outcomes – from helping a city manage its infrastructure or a business optimize its assets to guiding drivers to their destination safely. To learn more about HERE, please visit and

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