Saturday, 20 September 2008

Trams for Edinburgh?

Trams are great. I've always been struck by the efficiency and comfort of trams when I've visited large European cities such as Vienna, Turin and most recently Dresden. Trams are also generally more environmentally friendly than buses. So I should be delighted that trams are coming to Edinburgh. But I'm not!

Apart from the current chaos on Edinburgh's roads because of the tram works (hey we can live with some chaos (even three years of it!) if the end result will be worth it!) the trams are I think misguided, because:

Edinburgh is a small compact city that probably doesn't really need trams as well as the excellent bus service it has (Lothian Buses are respected as a very good bus company)

the trams will serve such a restricted area - basically Leith Walk (down towards the Scottish Government offices), Princes Street (the main shopping street) and onwards to Haymarket train station and further to a stop bizarrely about ten minutes walk from the airport. There may also be a line down towards Granton, but since the new business and housing development in Granton is possibly not going ahead, due to the current economic uncertainties, that line may also not go ahead. These areas are all currently well served with buses, while large areas of the city currently with poorer bus services will be without trams.

all public transport money is being poured into the trams, with the result that bus services to outlying areas of the city are at best not getting more investment, at worst are being cut. People who live in outlying areas are already more likely to have cars than those of us who live in the centre and if their bus services get worse, they're certainly not going to be tempted to leave their cars at home...

when the trams arrive, it seems that no buses will run along Princes Street. (I may be wrong about this, does anyone know?) This means that someone who lives in Restalrig and works in Gorgie for example, who currently can get a bus directly from their home to their work, a 30 minute journey or so, in future will need to get a bus to Leith Walk, then get off and wait for a tram to Haymarket where they will need to get off and get a second bus. This is hardly going to encourage people out of their cars.
There will only be one tram stop on Princes Street! Princes Street is quite a long street and currently has several bus stops.......

our roads will be very restricted when the trams have taken over most of the space - I would guess it will be much more difficult for cyclists

You can read more about the chaos on our streets and the negative impact on local businesses caused by the tram roadworks at Bond Bloke's Edinburgh Day by Day blog here, here and here


public transport for Easy Street Prompts

5 comments:

edinburghdaybyday said...

I could not agree more with every word of your post. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks that Edinburgh needs the trams, and most agree that it would have been more sensible to build a rail spur and station at the airport. Like yourself, I am n ot anti-trams, but in the right ebvironment, and Edinburgh is not the right environment...

d. moll, l.ac. said...

Sounds like someone hasn't thought out this tram thing very well. We have silly people who want to put a 3 story parking garage in the parking lot where the Farmer's Market is. This would, it is argued, encourage people to shop more down town and merchants would be happier.....but really parking is not the real problem.

Rabbits' Guy said...

Kind of a similar situation in Seattle ... some politicians get an idea about light rail and then no amount of logic can sway them ... it more takes budget overruns and less than advertised service .. which happen regularly.

Hopefully they will see the light sooner rather than too late.

Golebnik said...

Very interesting to read your thoughts about the trams, with which I think I broadly agree. Is it really the case that no buses will run along Princes Street? I have to say I’d find that surprising.

I agree entirely that Edinburgh (unlike Seattle) is too compact, and the buses too good, to warrant the reintroduction of trams. Nevertheless, transport research always shows that there is a hard core of motorists who would never dream of getting on a bus, but who would use trams, so maybe they will reduce car journeys to some extent. Judging by the comments from rabid motorists below every vaguely tram-related article on the Evening News website, though, somehow I doubt it!

One thing that I would add is that new tram schemes were in advanced stages of planning in several other UK cities, and all of them were stopped, on cost grounds, except for Edinburgh’s. At the time, the secretary of state for transport was Alistair Darling – MP for Edinburgh South West.

It would have been far better if the old tram lines had not been ripped out …

Crafty Green Poet said...

golebnik - I hope I'm wrong about the buses along Princes Street, but its what I've heard from a number of sources.

Trams will encourage people out of their cars true, but these trams won't reach the areas where there is the greatest number of car users.