Councillor Lesley Hinds clarifies tram facts

Edinburgh resident Allan Alstead recently wrote about the Edinburgh Tram project on the Guardian's Scotland Blog. 

Here, Transport Convener Lesley Hinds responds:

"I am pleased to note Mr Alstead's interest in the upcoming consultation on traffic management plans for Princes Street and George Street. The proposed scheme we'll be consulting on is just that - proposed. Nothing will be finalised until the consultation has closed and the feedback has been evaluated.

"The main thing to stress is that this is merely the start of the conversation - we want to hear from as many people as possible to make sure we get this right for Edinburgh.

"Everyone is entitled to their views and, as Convener of Transport, I have always made it clear that we fully acknowledge the strength of public feeling about the tram project.

"However, there are a number of points in Mr Allstead's blog post that I need to address.

"First of all, I think that far from "living in dread" of the trams' arrival, people in Edinburgh are impatient to see the works completed and tram services up and running at long last. The project has undoubtedly been beset by many significant problems over its lifetime but I have met a great many residents - especially in the last 10 months - who are as pleased (and, it must be said, relieved) as we are that we're now making such good progress.

"The trams will have road priority along the route, providing a fast, smooth and comfortable transit through the city. The tram can share available roadspace with other road users. The system has been designed to provide priority to trams at junctions, and the traffic regulation orders put in place to support the operation of the tramway have been designed for use by other transport. In certain areas, eg. Shandwick Place, this capacity is limited by the signal controlled junctions at either end and for this reason this section of the network will be limited to the use of trams, buses, cycles and taxis during the working day.

"In terms of Heavy Goods Vehicles, just last week the Transport and Environment Committee approved measures to allow these vehicles to access the Queensferry Street / Shandwick Place bus gate at night -  responding directly to the objections submitted by the Moray Feu!
Tram vehicles have been designed to particular specifications to meet the needs of the City. The full fleet will be used for operations under the management of the tram operator, Lothian Buses.

"Safety is of course one of our principal concerns and we would encourage all cyclists navigating the tram tracks to try and cross the tracks at an angle - as close to 90 degrees as they can, ideally. We are confident that as has been demonstrated in other cities, the more practice cyclists have with tram lines in place, the more adept they become at crossing them.

"We are determined that Edinburgh residents who are eligible for free travel across the country should be able to use the tram on the same basis and we're now working to see how we can support such a local scheme. The tram needs to be wholly integrated into the national transport network and, for me, this means that over 60s and people with disabilities should have free use of the service."

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