‘Transport for Edinburgh’ can be the future of public transport in our Capital - Lesley Hinds

The Council is set to create a new organisation to integrate transport services in the Capital. Transport for Edinburgh will be set up initially to integrate the tram and bus services, with Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams confirmed as the operators.

In the longer term, Transport for Edinburgh could become responsible for implementing the Council’s wider transport vision.
 
Details of company structure and the tram operating agreement will be presented to the full council meeting next week. Transport for Edinburgh will initially oversee both tram and bus services but, with an integrated transport strategy, there is potential to look wider and bring in pedestrian and cycle routes into the approach and to consider other transport issues.
 
Transport Convener Lesley Hinds says the new Council owned and run organisation has the potential to make a big impact on transport in Edinburgh. She said:
 
“Edinburgh’s new tram service is fast approaching and we’re developing the service in a way that fully complements our award winning bus service.  What I’d like to see in the longer term is a publicly run transport organisation that can implement transport strategy in a fully integrated way to the benefit of everyone who wants to get around the city.
 
“This is the perfect time to start to look beyond the tram launch and to develop a new approach to transport in Edinburgh. With their existing knowledge and expertise Lothian Buses is very well placed to thrive with the tram and I’m very pleased that we’re working in partnership with them. 
 
“The tram and bus services will be fully integrated with tickets and timetabling delivered through one system to make journeys easier. Any profit made will go back into Edinburgh’s transport system.
 
“Our first priority is to get trams up and running. There is much work to be done on the development of Transport for Edinburgh and, at an appropriate time, we’ll launch the new brand and develop in a way that places a focus on integrating and improving all modes of transport available in Edinburgh.

“We’re looking closely at other transport systems as we do this but the priority of course is to develop something that works best for Edinburgh."

Ian Craig, CEO of Lothian Buses said:

“This is a very welcome development for the city, its residents, visitors and businesses. Public transport is so key to all of our daily lives and the vision being put forward today by the Council should be embraced as committing to the ongoing provision of safe, socially-inclusive, affordable, integrated and high-quality public transport.

“Particularly in the immediate term, this allows the transport provision of bus and tram to the public to be integrated and presented as one multi-mode offering to our customers, rather than distinct and separate entities.

“Ensuring that Edinburgh’s public transport system, in its widest sense, keeps pace with the growth, economic development and social demands of the city is imperative and the formation of Transport for Edinburgh recognises this.”
 
The Council report sets out a company structure and financial model which incorporates Lothian Buses (referred to in the business plan as Busco) and Edinburgh Trams (Tramco) into an arrangement where both companies report into Transport for Edinburgh (Topco). The fifteen year financial model shows a positive outlook with a forecast profit of £3.7m over the period with an operating surplus in the fourth year of operations.
 
The tram on its own is forecast to run with a £42m operating surplus.  Maintenance and refurbishment costs for the tram system (totalling £87m and which isn’t part of operating costs) would be covered by an infrastructure access fee of £39.6m payable to the Council by Tramco and through the dividend of £55.2m paid to the Council by Lothian Buses and Tramco.  There is potential for additional funding to be achieved on items such as advertising and ticket optimisation.
 
The project remains in line with the revised budget (£776m) approved by the Council in September 2011, with work either ahead of schedule or in line with the revised timescale reported in December 2011.

Current remedial works are nearing completion and will not impact upon the financial position or the project timeframe. 

The Council will publish an updated target programme, agreed with the contractor, towards the end of September.

The full report will be available on the Council’s committee papers online system from Friday morning.

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