Mention the word tram to someone in Edinburgh and they are sure have an opinion on the subject – but I am neither for them (I’m happy with the buses) or against them. I just wish they would hurry up and arrive and for the budget not to escalate to ridiculous amounts.
Edinburgh Trams placed a tram in Princes Street last week and I popped along to have a look inside and see what the fuss was about. On first glance, it’s very spacious with seating for 78 people. The staff member told me it could hold 250 in total, meaning 172 people would have to stand at full capacity.
The access doors are not an example of the finished entrance, but the tram floor will be flush to the pavement, making it easy for wheelchair users and buggies getting on board.
The seats are leather and quite comfortable, but only some of them have enough space for me to sit on. I stand at 5ft 10inches, but I can’t get my knees comfortably behind the seat in front so would have to sit on a sideways seat (not a problem) or look for one near the door which are more spacious, but are priority seating for the elderly and disabled.
Disabled passengers have a designated area to travel in, with an emergency button to press that alerts the driver. The driver can then speak on the intercom through the speaker and ask the passenger how he can help. Full marks for catering to disabled passengers – but when questioning the staff on where parents with buggies would sit, one staff member said they could stand in an open area and hold onto the hand rail. Not very practical for a journey from Leith to Corstophine whilst trying to comfort a baby.
This of course, is if the disabled space is not taken up. I spoke to another member of staff and asked him the same thing and was at least sympathetic that the parents may not want to stand and pointed to one area where they could sit and place the buggy over a movable section on the floor.
The luggage storage is excellent, but if I was airport bound, I would choose the airport bus that only makes a few stops along the way – you know, the bus service that has worked for years in Edinburgh.
It was definitely interesting to see a real tram, but for now and for the next couple of years, I am more than happy with the service than Lothian Buses delivers.