CITY leaders in Edinburgh have agreed to consider demands from the business sector to run free services on the Edinburgh Trams network in the weeks following its launch.
• Ticket prices would be waived to introduce passengers to the route and boost business
• The city’s transport leaders said Edinburgh City Council would consider the scheme
• The chairman who proposed the measure said the shops, pubs and restaurants needed the boost following the complications of the project
Ticket prices would be waived to introduce passengers to the route and boost business after years of downturn caused by disruption from the project.
Business leaders said the move would provide shoppers with an incentive to return to the city centre after turning to out of town retail centres.
Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said Edinburgh City Council would consider such a scheme, and is already looking at learning from the Dublin tram network, which has free travel for children at certain times.
Michael Apter, chairman of the West End Association, which proposed the measure, said the shops, pubs, and restaurants across the city centre needed a boost following the completion of the £776m project.
He said: “It’s crucial that the council invests the resources and the money to get people back into the city centre, and that means high profile campaigns and free use of the trams immediately after its launch.
“Shoppers have long turned to out of town shopping centres due to the disruption and we need to encourage them to shop in the city again.”
Henderson, business development manager at the Federation of Small Business, said there is strong support for free use of the network.
He said: “Free use of the trams would be a strong incentive to return to the city centre for shopping and the council should listen to the business community here.
“It would be a return for all the trouble the public have endured, and probably the best marketing tool you could think of for the launch.
“On of top that I’d be very keen to see a plan from the council, when will it launch, a definitive date, what is happening after the launch, whether there will be education programmes for the public as to how it runs.”
Margo Macdonald, the Lothians MSP, backed calls for the move, but said costs would have to be weighed up by Lothian Buses, which will operate the tram route.
She said: “Free use of the trams would help people get into the habit of using it from day one and this should be welcomed.
“Clearly this would have to be cost permitting but it would be an opportunity to educate the public and demonstrate that the bus services have not been diminished, but will complement the trams.”
Councillor Hinds said: “My priority is to get it on the project delivered on the revised timetable and on budget, but we will look at all suggestions which come forward.
“We are however already looking at the experience of other cities, particularly Dublin, where they have started a new scheme with free use for children accompanied by adults, which has been hugely successful.”