At the start of the year – before you know what arrived – the City of Edinburgh Council launched a Public Consultation into their Draft City Mobility Plan (CMP). This is part of an aim in making Edinburgh a carbon neutral city and included amongst the ambitious plans were potential further Edinburgh Trams extensions. The results of the consultation have now been revealed which included 65% of respondents supporting the expansion of the tramway.
The original plan was split into three stages:
- By 2022 – Delivering today, planning for the future
- By 2025 – Bolder actions
- By 2030 – A City Transformed
For the trams, the first stage would have seen the extension to Newhaven almost completed (due in 2023) but it was in stages two and three that major expansion would be seen. By 2025 it was planned that a business case would have been developed for a new north south tram line (linking Granton to the Bio Quarter). But it was the by 2030 period that the biggest change would be seen with a mass transit network (including trams) around the area including extensions west to Newbridge and developed to connect the Waterfront in the north to the Royal Infirmary in the south. Further enhancements in the city centre were also suggested.
The report suggest that by 2030 16 trams an hour would be running between Haymarket and Newhaven by 2020 (and possibly back as far as Edinburgh Park) and that this could be extended to as many as 24 an hour if the extension west to West Hermiston or Newbridge and to Granton was approved.
Under Enhancing Public Transport in the consultation 923 respondents were in favour of extending the tramway (65% of those who responded – 42% strongly supported). 96 people were opposed to extending the tramway. A further question about issues in enhancing public transport saw just 4% (55) concerned about the costs and benefits of the tram expansion. Free text responses saw a few concerned about previous cost overruns and whether lessons had been learnt as well as questioning whether buses could do a similar job.
Following this consultation the responses will be fully analysed before the Transport and Environment Committee see a finalised plan in early 2021. It is likely that in the light of Covid-19 some changes will be necessary from the original plan.
Cllr Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: “As a city we are making real headway in tackling the manifold challenges posed by climate change, poor air quality and congestion, to name a few, but there is always more to be done. It is extremely encouraging that the vast majority of respondents to our Draft City Mobility Plan consultation support our vision for sustainable, affordable and joined-up transport in the Capital. We understand the impact Covid-19 will have on any plans but we’re also aware of the positive effect quieter streets have had on walking, cycling and wheeling, with numbers surging during lockdown. As we progress with our vision we want to maintain this enthusiasm by providing more, improved options for travel by foot, bike, wheelchair and public transport.”