Dienstag, 3. Juli 2007

Edinburgh gets it right on transport and goes for trams

I lived next to a tram line once, in Bonn, and hated it. I am not the best of sleepers and once I wake up, well, I am up. So for a year I woke up whenever the first tram of the day trundled down my street. I distinclty remember thinking: who takes the tram that early? :-)

Still, I am delighted that Edinburgh has decided to go ahead with building a tram system.
Edinburgh has talked a lot about sustainable transport in recent years. But when push came to shove, they often failed to act. They ignored traffic concerns and opened new out-of-town shopping centres; in 2005 Edinburgh voters even rejected congestion charges designed to pay for sustainable transport improvements bringing on a bout of depression in the author ....

Edinburgh already has a pretty good bus system (at least on radial routes), a very good recreational cycle network and a passable on-road cycle lanes network as well (I was reminded last week that the new Chancellor of Exchequer, Darling, was still dealing with more pedestrian concerns when I was a student. As the local MP, he helped me (and others) get a cycle lane established in Buccleuch Street, for example...).

But though the image of public transport in Edinburgh is more efficient and positive than in most of Scotland (or the UK), that image still needs a boost. Trams will provide that, as well as a fast and efficient way to get around that hilly city. Trams will be good for the image of Edinburgh as well as for the image of public transport in Edinburgh and the rest of the UK. I can't wait to have Fringe Festival visitors have the 'tram experience' in Edinburgh and go home and demand improvements to public transport wherever they live.

So: well done, Edinburgh, and thanks to all those tireless campaigners who have made this victory possible.

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