Alan Rudland

Edinburgh’s trams were to provide a world-class, iconic transport system, alleviating the looming problems of congestion. Running from the airport to Newhaven they were to pass through the west end, city centre and Leith business districts.

In June, the visionary’s dream was reined in, with a truncated route to St Andrew Square at a cost of £1 billion – just by borrowing £231 mil-lion. The visionary would argue that if borrowing is good, more borrowing must be better: for just £160m-£320m why not complete the line to Newhaven?

The visionary would argue that building to Haymarket with its perennial £4m operating losses would never excite the populace, and building to St Andrew Square is simply selling the dream short.

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The pragmatist is not fooled by the sunk cost fallacy: seeing no need to build “something” for the money already spent. Removing emotion from decisions simplifies choices: which option has least cost (present and future)? Which option has least risk, or ideally, no risk whatsoever?

Which option carries no disruption to the small businesses on the proposed route? Which option does not require a flight-of-fancy business case?

The pragmatist would seek an amicable split from the contractor, mothball the project and revisit it when economic conditions are more favourable.

Neither of these options was considered. Business owners in the west end, city centre and Leith might represent either of these characters, yet both the visionary and the pragmatist would agree that the wrong decision has been made.

l Alan Rudland is owner of Arkay Imaging in Leith Walk.

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