Edinburgh Trams - Council to Pay for Concessionary Travel
Transport Convenor, Lesley Hinds, has announced that the City Council will pay for the extension of the concessionary travel scheme to all those who wish to travel on the light railway "tram" once it starts operating.
Doubtless this will be a significant morale boost to the countless thousands of concessionary card holders who saw the possibility of being denied a tram ride as a bitter body blow, however, as the city will have to pay for the cost of this themselves, I suspect that Councillor Hinds is hoping that the bill will not be too large in these times of austerity.
But the planners of the light railway "tram" have virtually ensured that the take-up will be relatively small, because the majority of tram stops are not in locations which will be much use to concessionary card holders. With only one stop in Princes Street and one in St Andrew Square, where you alight for the main railway station at Waverley, or struggle uphill from the station to the Square, the tram really fails miserably to compete with the convenience of the bus.
That is, of course at present! We suspect, however, that the Council has a cunning plan to take all the buses off Princes Street anyway as they will really get in the way of the urban light railway (sorry, I mean "tram") so this will force those idle concessionary card holders to jolly well walk much more! This will be good for their health and it will ensure that people have no option but use the tram - so the council gains all round!
Does it matter that the tram is highly inconvenient and that it will have the effect of driving even more people away from the city centre? Not a jot! But perhaps the group of people who may object most, will be the City Centre traders and once they get upset then the Council has tended to listen.
Perhaps, just perhaps, after a chaotic introduction and "trial period" someone will listen to those who have been so critical of the tram project for many years. There is nothing like a good dose of economic reality to clear the mind and when shops in Princes Street, George Street and St Andrew Square really start to complain the Council will have to think again. I only hope they do so before they bankrupt the city.