FEARS were raised today about the number of bus services facing the axe if Edinburgh's multi- million pound trams project gets the go-ahead.
Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) - the council-owned company charged with reintroducing trams - confirmed a number of city centre bus services would need to be cut, but said it was unable to say which routes or how many would be affected.
A new body - Transport Edinburgh Limited (Tel) - made up of Lothian Buses, TIE and the city council has been set up to oversee the "integration" of trams and buses in the Capital.
Tel will make the final decision on changes to the city's bus network. Cuts are likely on Lothian Buses' most profitable city centre routes to accommodate the two proposed tram lines, while bus services in outlying areas where there are fewer passengers could be expanded.
City transport leaders have pledged that the two modes of public transport will not run in direct competition with each other, meaning buses will need to be axed in order to make trams viable.
But one senior transport source today hit out at TIE, and said it has failed to provide the public with enough information on how many bus services it thinks will need to be withdrawn.
The company originally submitted detailed proposals to the Scottish Parliament two years ago, which outlined 13 major changes including a 45 per cent reduction in the number of buses on Leith Walk.
Since then, TIE has back-tracked on these measures and has already promised to cut no buses around the Western General Hospital following intense pressure from residents.
A number of objectors are expected to demand more information from tram chiefs when the parliamentary Bills for both lines enter their final evidence stage next week.
"Having realised that they made a hash of their first attempt at predicting what will happen to Edinburgh's buses, TIE is desperately trying to back-pedal," said the senior source.
"They have a major public relations disaster on their hands and they need to be more honest and open about what will happen when trams come in."
Tina Woolnough, chairwoman of the Blackhall Community Association - who will be giving evidence against the Tram Line One loop - added: "We are extremely concerned about what will happen to bus services in Edinburgh. The vast majority of tram passengers are expected to transfer from buses, not from private cars. Tram stops are at least 700 metres apart - bus stops are 350 metres apart. People will have to walk further and make more changes in their journeys than they do now. This is not the way to make public transport more attractive.
TIE's two-year-old report said it would be necessary to withdraw the number 22 and 35 routes between Ocean Terminal and the city centre, as well as the number 10 and 42 from the north of Edinburgh to Princes Street.
The report estimated there would be a 14 per cent reduction in buses on Easter Road and 15 per cent on Inverleith Road, resulting in the loss of 18 vehicles.
A spokeswoman for TIE said all the changes put forward in the report were being reviewed.
"The integration work is continuing and while it is too early to provide the detail, the integration of bus and tram will have an impact on the current bus service - in some cases with a reduction in service where alternatives are available, but with resources relocated elsewhere and additional or new bus services provided to create a joined-up network of buses and trams," she said.
"Integration is key to the improvement of public transport. The result will be a much more efficient and accessible transport service throughout Edinburgh."
Bill Campbell, operations director with Lothian Buses, said: "It is not possible yet to say in what way the existing bus network will be changed in order to integrate it with trams, but work is currently being done on a number of possible options.