Lost track? Ticket machines for trams to be reinstalled

ON-street ticket machines will have to be reinstalled for the Capital's tram line, it emerged today, just weeks after bus bosses began ripping them out because no-one was using them.

&#149 Carrie-Anne McCormack buying a ticket when the machines were in situ

Tram firm TIE has confirmed its intention to have machines at all of the Capital's tram stops allowing passengers to buy their tickets before boarding.

Last month, Lothian Buses began removing more than 30 on-street ticket machines which had been installed with the intention of being used by both bus and tram customers.

Those machines, which were installed in late 2007, were aimed at speeding up bus journeys by encouraging passengers to buy their tickets before boarding.

They failed to catch on and were scrapped after costing more than 150,000.

TIE has admitted similar machines will have to be installed at all the city's stops in the hope of discouraging people from waiting until they are on board.

Anyone buying tickets from the inspector on board will be charged a special "premium rate" the tram company said.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie asked why the machines used by the bus company could not have been retained.

He said: "It sounds like the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.

"Surely they could have decommissioned these machines and then returned to use them at a later date, rather than just taking them away. It may be an indication, however, of just how soon the trams are expected to run."

He added: "You would hope there were conversations between Lothian Buses and TIE about this. It beggars belief if that's not been the case."

It is thought travellers will have the option of paying with cash or paying with a smart card on the platform once the trams are up and running.

TIE is also looking at installing card-reading sensors at all stops along the route which will see the price of a ticket deducted directly from passengers' bank accounts.

It is still unclear whether the trams will be covered by the concessionary travel scheme which currently allows pensioners to travel free of charge on the city's buses and forms a crucial part of TIE's business case for the project.

A TIE spokesman said: "Tickets, which will cost the same as Lothian Buses, will be purchased off-tram using ticket machines at tram stops and travel shops. Only premium rate tickets will be available to be purchased on the tram. The higher price is designed to encourage passengers to purchase tickets before boarding."

He added: "Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams will be operated as a single, integrated network. This will include common ticketing and effective information that offers seamless interchange between trams and buses."

Details of the ticketing arrangements were released by TIE along with information on the expected timetable for the trams. TIE said trams would run every ten minutes between Edinburgh Airport and Newhaven, with the first service at 6am and the last at midnight.

However, it now looks unlikely that the whole line will be opened, with plans to construct it in sections to save money. TIE also said it would take 45 minutes to travel from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven - around 15 minutes quicker than by bus.