The number of people using trams in Edinburgh increased by 10 per cent as figures show more than 7.3 million passengers travelled last year.
The rise in passengers has been attributed to extra trams running at peak times, with some services running every three minutes.
Operator Edinburgh Trams welcomed the figures released today and announced a pre-tax profit of £1.3 million.
The organisation is set to take on the responsibility and costs of maintaining the vehicles and infrastructure in 2019, with an £8.5 million annual fee paid to Edinburgh council for use of the trams, track and the tram depot.
Lea Harrison, managing director of Edinburgh Trams, said: “Everyone at Edinburgh Trams continues to work tirelessly to deliver a safe, reliable and customer-focused service for our residents and visitors to the city. The additional responsibilities given to us as maintainer are recognition of our efforts and the council’s belief in our abilities to make cost savings for the city.”
Transport for Edinburgh chief executive George Lowder said the transfer of responsibilities showed “Edinburgh Trams has come of age”, adding it “has proven itself for a fourth year as an integral part of the Transport for Edinburgh group and the backbone of the integrated Edinburgh mobility network”.
City councillors are due to vote in March on plans to extended the tram network to Newhaven.
The proposal estimates expansion could almost double the number of passengers using trams, with a predicted 14 million users in its first year.
Lesley Macinnes, transport convener at Edinburgh council and chair of Transport for Edinburgh, said: “We’re nearly five years on from the launch of tram passenger services and the figures speak for themselves: every year, more and more people in the capital are discovering the benefits of Edinburgh Trams’ award-winning service.
“It’s a reflection of how well Edinburgh Trams is performing as a company that we feel they are now ready to take on the responsibility for maintenance costs, as was always the plan when the current arrangements were agreed. Their continued growth in passenger numbers, improved service frequency and excellent customer service point to their readiness for this transfer of responsibility.
“These next few months are vital to our development of Edinburgh’s public transport provision as our city continues to grow.
“Council officers are refining the Trams to Newhaven final business case ahead of a decision by elected members in March.”