Readers' letters: Free bus travel has knock-on effect for trams

How extensive should the concessionary travel scheme be throughout Scotland?

Will Edinburgh Trams be hurt by the new concessionary travel scheme (Picture: Ian Georgeson)
Will Edinburgh Trams be hurt by the new concessionary travel scheme (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

Edinburgh Council leader Adam McVey makes a valid point about the knock-on effects of the introduction of free bus travel for those under 22 from January (your report, 26 November).

A shift from use of the trams (not covered by the scheme) to buses will have an effect on Transport for Edinburgh (TfE)'s finances; if the policy is to be extended to cover the trams it would be unrealistic to expect the local authority alone to fund it. This highlights an anomaly which has existed since the tram network began.

It was financed in the main by central government, in circumstances which were controversial. But the concessions for pensioners only applied to people who were resident in the Edinburgh City Council area, not to visiting elderly residents.

At the time the then Transport Minister, Keith Brown, suggested that this was applying the same principle as worked on the Glasgow Subway.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of this approach, the time has come to look again as how concessionary travel for under 22s and pensioners can be extended at national level.

Plainly the cost will be a factor but it is a matter Finance Secretary Kate Forbes should look at closely.

The welfare of the young and elderly, the impact on the environment, the benefits in terms of tourism, the ending of the anomaly mentioned above, the viability of the Subway and the tram network, should all be factors she takes into account.

If she and her colleagues can get this right, it can ensure the viability of concessionary travel for the coming decades.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes

Tram delays

It is disingenuous, to say the least, to imply that trams to Newhaven is running only a little late.

The name of the project may have changed, but the sad reality is that the wider Leith community has been suffering for years.I well remember the 15 minutes added at each end of the working day by bus diversions during the previous Leith tramworks, and I retired in 2013! Also, the snazzy noticeboards promising 'getting you to work in 2011'.How convenient that Covid-19, concrete shortages and unanticipated complications can be blamed for the current delays

And how sad that trams to Granton remain in never-never land.

Moyra Forrest, Edinburgh

Fossil fuels

Most people would agree that we cannot stop using fossil fuels overnight. Like many countries across the world, the UK is striving to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and to increase energy creation from renewables

Progress is being made: for example, the UK no longer burns millions of tonnes of coal each year in its power stations. But the transition to renewables takes time.

What we need now is a practical calculation of how long that period of transition is likely to be. Impatient environmentalists say "The period of transition should be as short as possible!" But that does not help us much.

Numbers plucked from the air are no use either. We need to see a calculation of the length of the transition period, based on, to take only one example, the rate at which oil and gas heating is being converted to electric heating. At present about 97 per cent of our heating burns oil and gas.

Conversion will require millions of electric boilers and thousands of electricians. That would suggest a transition period of a good many years. And that is only one factor. We need to consider transport and industry in the same detail. And so on.

This calculation is important because major decisions hinge on it. Thus a transition period of 30 years could be taken to justify opening the Cambo oilfield. The reasoning would be: we shall need supplies of oil and gas for the next 30 years, therefore it is better to use local supplies rather than rely on imports from countries like Algeria.

Of course, some people will say "Thirty years is too long for a transition period." But then the onus is on them to show what the figure should be and how it is calculated.

Arguments about the great issue of climate change are nothing more than empty rhetoric if people ignore the practicalities of how we transition to renewables and do not bother to calculate the number of years that the transition is likely to take.

Les Reid, Edinburgh

Down on Rangers

Mr McLellan's article (Scotsman, 27 November states, inter alia, that, 'Rangers were relegated to the Third Division.'

It comes as no surprise that a staunch Conservative and Unionist like Mr McLellan prefers fiction to fact but as everyone knows, the old Rangers went bust and a new club was formed. That new club was admitted into the Scottish Third Division, there was no relegation.

Still, if Mr McLellan seriously believes that Rangers were relegated, perhaps he could entertain the adults in the room by explaining how a club that finished second in the Premier Divison were relegated to the bottom division of Scottish football.

George Shanks, Edinburgh

Turbine trouble

I have to congratulate our First Minister for making the effort to cope with the effects of flicker created by wind turbine blades while she was being interviewed inside the Visitor Centre at Whitelee Windfarm on BBC Scotland, (27 November).

She looked distracted and sounded more grumpy than usual but she kept talking, obviously in an attempt to show it wasn’t a problem despite the fact a warning was issued at the start of the video about the strobing effect created by the blades. Now she knows what many rural residents have to endure on a daily basis at this time of the year when the sun is low.

Despite the fact it is a simple process for wind farm operators to shut down their turbines when this very debilitating effect occurs, many refuse because they will lose a few pennies in profit.

What she won’t have hung around long enough to witness is the equally disturbing effect of night time flicker when the blades pass in front of turbine aviation lights.

But why should she care, she doesn’t have to live beside a wind farm.

Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor

Baby steps

Labour MP Stella Creasy was rebuked for bringing her three-month-old son into Westminster

Hall last week.

The obvious response to this disapproval would have been for Ms Creasy to point out that her baby’s behaviour was impeccable, as he slept through the proceedings in the Hall - as some elderly MPs tend to do, until poked in the side by a fellow member who finds it difficult to hear what’s being said above the sound of the not-so-gentle snoring.

Ms Creasy has told the BBC that she had regularly taken her son, and before him, her daughter, into the Commons chamber, with no objections from her fellow MPs. Babies have fathers, too, but they can carry on with their working lives with no interruption - though this is changing, as more young men are willing to share the responsibility for parenthood in the earliest stages of their children’s lives, if they have family-friendly employers.

The MP pointed out that there was still no rule on wearing masks in the House, yet she was barred from taking her sleeping baby with her when she spoke in chamber. Health risks from fellow MPs are presumably considered to be less heinous than the presence of a sleeping baby.

Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry

Rubbish record

While Stephen Jardine may be justifiably pessimistic regarding the City of Edinburgh Council’s aptitude and ability to give us a tram system, he is unduly optimistic, without foundation, for his belief that this same council is capable of emptying the bins (‘Food for Thought’, Scotsman, 27 November). It is not.

Rubbish bins throughout Edinburgh are overflowing, there is fly-tipping all over the place, and the answer to this problem is apparently to give us more bins in the shape of bin hubs throughout central Edinburgh. The Council has decided, in a dictatorial manner unchecked by any consultation or inclusion, that our World Heritage Site and entire city centre will be enhanced by fixed ranks of bins for all manner of rubbish and recycling so that owners of air b & bs will have an easier time of rubbish disposal between tenants and that residents will be plagued by mess, noise, ugliness and vermin. There are currently ‘information sessions’ taking place across central Edinburgh, but do councillors attend these busy events to explain their decisions? Of course not. They send their unfortunate members of staff to attempt to pacify the unhappy residents. It seems that the Council is not prepared to learn from anything the trams enquiry is likely to suggest and will proceed with no regard for its residents with this badly considered and ill conceived imposition of bin hubs.

Caroline McFarlane Edinburgh

Cambo concern

How very heartening to find a number of SNP MPs and MSPs, mainly in the north east, are speaking out against Nicola Sturgeon and the shortsighted decision to oppose the Cambo oilfield.

These politicians will no doubt feel the wrath of the SNP machine where none shall criticise nor disagree.

It is clear the Greens are in charge in Scotland now, as the First Minister acquiesces to their every demand in an effort to realise her one and only dream, the destruction of the United Kingdom. She is determined to trash Scotland while blaming Westminster.

Douglas Cowe, Newmachar

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