Given that it is only the SNP who want to scrap the trams, it is worth scrutinising their alternatives.
So, what do they have planned? You can read their plans on Davie Hutchison’s cool site North to Leith, but in essence this is it:
Davie’s post says: “When we form the Scottish Executive after the 2007 election we will create a £4m per annum Capital Bus Route Development fund. The fund would allow bus operators in the Edinburgh City-Region to bid for funds to secure the future of the bus service, enhance the frequency of current services and to develop new routes”.
Kenny MacAskill said that the trams “would potentially threaten the future of Edinburgh’s award winning bus service” despite the fact that all the evidence from other tram systems shows that bus use goes up as well when trams are introduced (see French tram lessons). Funny how in 2003 Kenny thought the opposite and wanted trams protected from competition from buses!
Kenny also said that “it (the £4m per annum) delivers much more for far less. In terms of bangs for bucks its must be buses not trams” despite the fact that according to PTEG, “significant” investment in buses alone only produces a 5% increase in public transport journeys, compared to 20% increases with trams.
Steve Cardownie, SNP council leader, said: “£4m per annum for the development of buses routes in Edinburgh would allow for two existing routes, every year, to be increased in frequency to 5 minute intervals. That’s two routes a year becoming as frequent as the 22″
So, he wants to add two more routes every year with the same frequency as the 22. Will he be building more roads through the city for them to go on? Some bus journeys already take three times as long as making the same trip by car. If you add to that a vast increase in the number of buses on the streets, coupled with the predicted 25% increase in car traffic within ten years, that is a recipe for even more gridlock.
More buses on key arterial routes leads to more congestion.
More congestion leads to longer journey times.
Longer journey times mean less people catching the bus instead of driving.
“Bangs for bucks?” – no, the opposite. A shot in the foot.
Of course, there is a lot that can be done to continually-improve the bus service, and new routes are planned after trams, when there will be the chance to re-deploy Lothian Buses’ existing vehicles to different parts of the city/the Lothians linking in to the tram network. But why do the SNP think that Edinburgh will somehow succeed ion massively increasing bus use beyond capacity when every other city has failed and is frantically looking at alternatives?
This was some of the reaction to this announcement on the Evening News:
“What a half baked idea. Substituting capital expenditure, which leaves the city with a lasting legacy, for current expenditure, which could be withdrawn, and gets whittled away in any case, is hardly sensible accounting. If you want to ditch the trams and use the money for something else, at the very least make it something that leaves a legacy”.
“I can often walk up Dundas Street, reaching the top before the bus can. I’ve had to get off a bus and finsh my journey on foot as it was quicker. There are far too many buses in my opinion”.
“Roads in the town centre couldn’t cope with that amount of busses. Princes street is normally chocked full of nothing but busses”.
“Did you lot know that London gets tens of billions of pounds spent on it’s transport every year and yet Edinburgh can’t even get a fraction of this. Good old SNP, looking after Edinburghs interests”.
“Here we go, more capital transport bashing from the Strathclyde National Party. FWIW more buses will increase congestion. Any fool knows that”.
“Well as an Edinburgh resident (who doesnt own a car) who spends more time on stationary buses in packed streets than moving ones, the notion that more buses will help solve our congestion problems and entice people out of their cars is one I would have thought most people wouldnt give a lot of time to (but apparently not!)”.