Edinburgh tram shelter review to be launched

A WIDE-RANGING review of Edinburgh’s tram system to examine potential improvements such as to waiting shelters will follow its launch next week, city council transport convener Lesley Hinds told The Scotsman today.

Picture: Neil Hanna

The move follows criticism about aspects of the service, such as whether the “minimalist” tram stop shelters on the eight-mile route will protect passengers from the wind and rain.

Tram priority at traffic lights and the small size of bins on the trams will also be examined.

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However, Ms Hinds said the council had yet to decide whether there would be a “grace period” for passengers forgetting to buy tickets before boarding - or whether £10 penalties would be imposed from the start of operations on Saturday, 31 May.

Passenger watchdogs, old people’s groups and planning experts have already complained that the tall, thin design of the glass and steel waiting shelters is inadequate for people who will have to wait up to ten minutes for a tram.

The shelters provide less protection than many of those at bus stops and railway station platforms in Edinburgh, such as the newly overhauled Haymarket, or on other tram systems, such as in Manchester.

Edinburgh airport chiefs are understood to have had misgivings about the narrow width of the shelter at the tram terminus there, but were told a tram would always be waiting for passengers to board.

The council said last year there had been a “minimalist design approach” to shelters in the city centre to “street clutter and visual impact in sensitive locations”.

Ms Hinds said: “We need to re-look at certain things once the trams are up and running. They were designed a long time ago.

“I accept the design of the shelters is very nice, but are they practical?

“I can understand why people have concerns about the infrastructure.

“If possible, we will be asking if there are things that can be changed to make it better.”

She said changes had not been made before because they would have further added to the spiralling cost of the £776 million Edinburgh Airport-York Place route, which is being completed three years late.

Ms Hinds also acknowledged complaints from taxi drivers about delays caused by trams getting priority at traffic lights.

She said: “There is still a bit of a challenge with [traffic] lights in the city centre, especially at Haymarket. However, it was always a very congested junction.”

Passenger surveys will be carried out to highlight other potential improvements.

Tram officials are holding a second event on Saturday to inform passengers about ticket buying, with a parked tram open to board in St Andrew Square from 12-2pm. Some 1,000 people to a similar event last Saturday.

Trams will run every eight to ten minutes from 5am to midnight. Journeys from the airport to the city centre are expected to take 34 minutes, but the precise time has yet to be announced.