Edinburgh tram passengers at 1.5m in 100 days

EDINBURGH’s trams have carried more than 1.5 million passengers in their first 100 days of operation – putting them on track to hit their first-year targets.

Edinburgh Tram at the  Murrayfield Stadium tram stop. Picture: TSPL
Edinburgh Tram at the Murrayfield Stadium tram stop. Picture: TSPL

Passenger figures and revenue levels are understood to be in line with predictions of 4.5 million passengers in its first year of operation.

The service experienced an extremely busy launch period with around 130,000 passengers in the first week followed by a regular weekly average in excess of 90,000 passengers.

Major events which have helped boost the figures include the One Direction concert and two Champions League games at Murrayfield, and one of Edinburgh’s busiest festival seasons.

Ian Craig, chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh said: “I’m very pleased with progress so far and with 100 days of the tram service under our belts, coupled with record breaking patronage on Lothian Buses, we’re well placed to thrive as a modern integrated transport operator.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

“What we’re seeing suggests a genuine increase in use of public transport across the piece which is a priority for us but also a shared aspiration for many in the city.”

Despite some high-profile events and service interruptions, 98.7 per cent of trams have completed full route journeys since the start of operations. Tram chiefs have revealed that concessionary travel in the form of the Scottish National Entitlement Card use is currently within the council’s £500,000 budget for the financial year, equating to around 10 per cent of journeys.

However full figures have yet to be released to confirm whether the tram service is in line to hit its financial targets. The project, which has to date brought one line into operation – from Edinburgh Airport to York Place – has cost around £776 million and costs are expected to top £1 billion when interest on future funding is accounted for.

The council is currently saddled with tram repayments of £15.3m per year as part of a 30-year payment plan borrowed at a rate of 5.1 per cent. A £231m rescue loan was signed in 2011 to help bankroll the curtailed 8.7-mile line.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

This means the city is paying out £228m in interest under the terms of the loan – tipping the £776m tram budget over the £1bn mark.

City transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “These are still the early days of a new operation and there’s always going to be scope to refine things to make sure passengers get the best possible service. We’ve got a great team in place to hone and develop the tram operation and to ensure that we deliver a fully integrated public transport system for the capital.”

The first 100 days of trams covered the period from Saturday, 31 May to Sunday, 7 September.

Tram expert, Simon Johnston, editor of Tramways and Urban Transit magazine, welcomed the early figures but warned that a “true account” will not become apparent until the full figures were made available for scrutiny.

Advertisement

Hide Ad

He said: “The numbers are quite encouraging and the service appears to have bedded in quite nicely. I notice that the Ingliston Park and Ride is the busiest stop on the line so it would appear that the service is coming good on its stated aim to reduce the amount of cars on the road.

“The true test will come during quieter months when there are not that many tourists.”