In June 2014 Trams returned to Edinburgh’s streets for the first time in almost 50 years, however, in the decade since the first money was allocated to the project, the price doubled, the network halved and it took twice as long to build as was first thought.
Edinburgh’s tram “network” is now just part of one of the original lines, stretching from the airport to the city centre. It had been intended to reach the waterfront at Leith and Newhaven, and there were to be other lines too, but they disappeared as the troubled project rumbled on. This was the originally planned route.
After many years of delays and procrastination the tram was finally completed and is now fully operational. Having a spare hour in Edinburgh I decided to explore the tram and see literally where it might lead me too along its 8.7 mile route that has cost at least 976 million pounds to contruct.
Fifty-two ticket inspectors were recruited to prevent fare dodging. Edinburgh Council is aiming for a 3% fare evasion rate, lower than any other tramway in Britain. Thirty-two drivers were employed, after passing psychological tests designed to eliminate risk-takers
Tram lines are making a re-appearance in UK and for good reasons. They tend to be more reliable in timing than buses and can often be built right into the city centre. For a long time there has been a lack of direct transportation from Edinburgh airport into the city which when combined with the relatively narrow roads often meant delays in getting to the main city centre. The tram line starts at the airport and ends at York place past the end of Princes Street. There are many possibilities of ticket types that range from simple single and return fares through to day tickets. The day tickets, equivalent of the London travel card , are more expensive when travelling to or from the airport, than the city and its environs. There is also a conundrum in that outside of the airport zone there is a family ticket that carries 2 adults and 3 children, but for airport travel tickets need to be bought individually. This might explain why the trams seem relatively unused at the airport, my tram was almost empty, as by the time that more than one ticket is bought you are into the realms of little less cost than a taxi.
The line itself runs through a variety of shopping centres, a train depot ( only for staff), and joins with a number of other stations en-route. It also stops at the Ingliston park and ride. So the line is practical and within reason quite cheap. They employ cohorts of scary looking ticket inspectors who check each and every customer, and who really do remember who they have previously checked, like they have photographic memories.
During only its second year of operation 5.38 million passengers used the system. And for anyone arriving at Edinburgh airport on their travels this is a good option for the city centre.