THE Queensferry Crossing has "more traffic than the bridge can cope with" at peak times, according to Transport Scotland.

And bridge operators Amey said driver behaviour and "rat-running" was to blame for adding to the delays and tailbacks, as well as motorists going too slow.

Both organisations attended the South and West Fife area committee meeting last week and told councillors the best way to ease the traffic congestion on the bridge was not to use it – and take the bus or train instead.

Scott Lees, head of maintenance at Transport Scotland, said: "It is clear that at peak times, there is more traffic than the bridge can cope with.”

Earlier this month, Mid Fife and Scotland Tory MSP Liz Smith said Holyrood wasn't doing enough to tackle congestion at the bridge.

She said: "As many residents will be aware, motorists from Fife are faced with lengthy tailbacks on the approach to the Queensferry Crossing on a daily basis – a very disappointing and frustrating situation that many of them probably didn’t anticipate when the new bridge opened."

Ms Smith said she found it "hard to believe that no talks have taken place between the Scottish Government and Fife and Lothian councils to look into ways to resolve rush-hour congestion".

However, Mr Lees said the £1.3 billion crossing wasn't built to increase capacity and continued: "There is this view that the new bridge was built and there should be no congestion.

"But it is important to remember that the Queensferry Crossing was built as a replacement, it doesn’t increase the provision across the Forth.”

John Russell, from Amey, said that some of the traffic congestion was down to driver behaviour.

He said: “The rat-running – drivers going off and on slip roads to avoid queues – actually adds to the problems.

"And drivers don’t actually gain any time. Even if you skip that line, you’re not even beating the traffic, as you still have to rejoin.

"It’s completely psychological. If drivers would just stay on the main line, it would move much smoother.”

He added that traffic light signals had been changed to hold people at the roundabout at South Queensferry longer to encourage people to stay on the main road.

It was also highlighted that some motorists continued to drive at 50mph even when the speed limit is 70mph.

Asked if opening the Forth Road Bridge at peak times would help, Mr Russell replied: "I don’t think you’d get as much benefit as you might think, as the capacity at either ends is very limited, so you’d just be moving the bottleneck somewhere else.

"If it was a local-only route, you might get very limited benefits, but I have no idea how you would manage and enforce that.”

Mr Russell said that the Queensferry Crossing was not operating above its capacity but it's getting closer with an increase in the number of vehicles using the bridge.

The councillors were also told that, with the scale of housebuilding in West Fife, a growth of one to three per cent a year in bridge traffic is expected.

He explained: "We do around 24 million journeys a year, 80,000 a day across the bridge.

"It was built to cope with around 90,000, so we’re not at capacity yet.

"The bridge was built with a 10-year plan in mind.

"However, the Forth Road Bridge was handling about 70,000 a day so it’s nothing out of the ordinary.”

Both representatives said the best way to ease the problems at the Queensferry Crossing was to encourage people to use the other two bridges – trains across the Forth Bridge and buses on the Forth Road Bridge – instead.

With a nod to the continuing complaints about the poor rail service in Fife, however, Mr Lees added: "People do have to have confidence in the service before they will use it.”

Councillors were told that the wind barriers had proved to be very effective, with more than 30 instances where the original bridge would have had to close due to strong winds but the new crossing had been able to remain open.

And overnight works on the Queensferry Crossing, which opened in August 2017, are now complete which should see an end to the regular evening restrictions.

The lights that illuminate the ends of the crossing will also be dimmed to reduce the glare for drivers.