Edinburgh trams use up 12 per cent, surpassing targets

A busy tram at Haymarket. Picture: Ian Rutherford
A busy tram at Haymarket. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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MORE than five million passengers have used Edinburgh’s trams in the network’s first calendar year, the Evening News can reveal.

Target-smashing figures also show the number of people using the service has risen by 12 per cent over the last 12 months.

And the city’s festival season saw the trams’ busiest week so far, with 137,000 passengers stepping on board – outstripping even the first week of operations in 2014.

Six major Murrayfield events – including the Foo Fighters gig in September and five rugby matches – each brought around 10,000 additional passengers.

COMMENT: The case for completion is compelling

Councillor Lesley Hinds, chair of Transport for Edinburgh and the city’s transport leader, said: “These latest figures demonstrate the continuing popularity of Edinburgh Trams and add to the success of our first year of operations [May 2014-May 2015], which saw almost five million passengers ride the trams. We now want to build on this success for the future of the service, as we look to extend and develop the network.”

The latest figures, released by Edinburgh Trams today as part of its annual report, follow a successful 12 months.

Earlier this year, the service received a 95 per cent overall customer satisfaction rating following an independent UK-wide survey by Passenger Focus, alongside a 99 per cent reliability ranking.

And in October, a six-week “red-eye” trial of earlier departures from Edinburgh Airport saw an extra 1200 passengers pile into the carriages.

In total, 5.1 million passengers have used the trams in 2015.

But councillors have delayed making any final decision on whether to extend the trams down into Newhaven until after the next election in 2017.

Tory plans to hold a city-wide referendum on the issue were also rejected. Despite this, the council voted to begin preparation work along the proposed route, including 
setting up a project team, site investigation and starting footway enabling works on Leith Walk.

Figures show drivers completed more than 82,000 journeys over the course of 2015, covering a total of 649,073 miles. The city’s trams as a whole have now covered 1,041,728 miles in service since May 2014.

Meanwhile, parking at Ingliston park and ride has increased by 60 per cent when compared with the same time last year.

The 12 per cent boom in this year’s passenger figures was worked out by comparing the seven months from May 31 to the end of December 2014, to the same period this year.

Ian Craig, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, said the trams were continuing to go from “strength to strength” thanks to the “huge effort from the team over two years”.

He said: “Our first year was a big success and a time of much excitement, but the real test is sustainability and continuing high quality operations. The service we’re delivering is great, it’s highly reliable and, as a result, we’re seeing more passengers get on board.”

Edinburgh Trams saw around 4.92 million passenger journeys during its first year – 370,000 more than the target set before launch. Concessionary card holders accounted for 10.9 per cent of passengers.

Bosses said revenue targets for this year were also set to be “considerably ahead of [the] business plan”.