Tramworks misery as Lothian Buses warns on twitter

Traffic grinds to a halt at the West End as tram works put the brakes on. Picture by Jane Barlow
Traffic grinds to a halt at the West End as tram works put the brakes on. Picture by Jane Barlow
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Passengers have been warned to expect more delays in the West End, as Lothian Buses took to social media sites to advise customers about the continued disruption being caused by new tramworks.

The public transport operator, which will take over management of the trams system from next year, admitted buses had experienced delays of up to half an hour in both directions as a result of roadworks at the foot of Lothian Road.

The warning came as the city council said it would be removing the pedestrian crossing outside the former Caledonian Hotel in efforts to minimise disruption and improve traffic flow.

Buses and other vehicles were again forced to queue yesterday during peak hours for hundreds of metres in lines stretching northbound on Lothian Road, and along Princes and South Charlotte streets. Contractors are installing cabling at the junction of Lothian Road and Princes Street – one of the busiest intersections in the Capital – with work due to take until March 15, when a further six-week phase will start to complete changes to the intersection.

Lothian Buses warned commuters on Twitter at about 4pm yesterday: “Lane restrictions continue at west end of Princes St. Possible delays during peak journey times.”

City transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I’m determined that any disruption around these works is minimised as much as possible and I’ve asked officers to make sure that everything is being done to keep buses and cars moving.

“Steps have been taken to improve traffic flow and this should make the situation better for this bus route. However, we’ll keep monitoring the area and do all we can to keep things moving.”

The gridlock stems from two lanes along both Princes and South Charlotte streets merging into a single westbound lane at the intersection. One lane has also been shut to vehicles travelling north up Lothian Road.

Conservative transport spokeswoman Joanna Mowat said it was disappointing no forward planning had been done to inform people of traffic problems, but added: “I think we’re all very, very keen to get the tramworks completed and it would be naive to expect that could be done without some more chaos.”

She said she was encouraged that there now seemed to be a “willingness” to get the trams scheme finished.

She said: “Certainly since May, there seems to have been a getting to grips with the project and a pushing on. I’m disappointed about the lack of notification, but the lack of notification seems to be followed by works, which is an improvement on the previous situation where there was a lack of communication, something happened and we didn’t see the progress you would expect.”

As of late December, £700 million had been spent on the scheme from a base budget of £742m. A further £11.1m remains from the £34m contingency fund designed to soak up
unexpected costs.