Trouble for trams

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I hate to burst Robert Drysdale’s bubble (Letters, 26 August) or remove his drive to get the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) to be more positive about tram passenger numbers, but he should know that the figures he quotes from Nottingham Tram are out of date.

It is true that they enjoyed patronage figures of ten million in 2007-8, but these have now dropped to just over seven million, calling into question the economic viability of building the current extensions.

I would have thought that the CEC would require no encouragement to put a gloss on the tram passenger predictions – after all, the reason the project became such a mess was down to overly optimistic patronage predictions, unreliable costings and incompetent management, which has sapped most people’s desire for yet more optimism.

The Department for Transport in England has recently issued tram patronage figures for Nottingham that show that, on average, the dizzy heights of 36 passengers per tram journey in 2007-8 is now only 29.

If you apply these figures to the Edinburgh trams, this would equate to just over two million passengers per year, rather than the eight million-plus contained in last week’s updated tram report, and require an even more significant annual subsidy from already squeezed council budgets.

Perhaps the time for gloss has past and the potential looming disaster should condense council minds and strip away the continued huge PR hype that surrounds their struggle, both physically and financially, to get to revenue status.

Thinking positively, at least most tram passengers will be assured of a seat on the 350-passenger-capacity leviathan that represents Edinburgh trams.

John R T Carson

Kirkliston Road

South Queensferry

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