Ian Craig, Chief Executive Lothian buses at the meeting.
© John Yellowlees, 2013
The formation of Edinburgh Corporation Tramways in 1871 and of Leith Tramways in 1904 was followed by Leith's absorption into Edinburgh in 1920 and the conversion of Edinburgh's trams from cable to overhead wire. Thereafter bus growth was paralleled by the slow and sad decline of the trams until the last one ran in 1956.
Local government reorganisation in 1975 brought about the creation of Lothian Region Transport which with bus deregulation became a PLC in 1986 before turning into Lothian Buses in 2000.
Edinburgh people love their buses, and that love underpins the future of transport in the city. They carry over 350,000 journeys daily, with bus ridership a 25-year high after a period of growth, then contraction, then growth again.
Edinburgh Bus Tours are also thriving, and the Tram awaits end-to-end testing in the New Year, with the saga of learning lessons from what happened best left to others.
The city is changing, and its transport networks are ready to drive it to greater prosperity. Since 1983 the city of Edinburgh's population has grown by 14% and is projected to grow in the next twenty years by a a futher 19%.
The Parliament, the Ocean Terminal and the Omni Centre are examples of developments since the Millennium, and the number of visitors rose from 2.3M in 1986 to 3.7M in 2013. Lothian Buses have kept pace, with the introduction of more environmentally-friendly vehicles and better information including Bus Tracker and an official App which allows passengers to purchase and use tickets purely through their mobile devices.
Chaired by Lesley Hinds, the board of the new Transport for Edinburgh group comprising councillors, executive and other non-executive directors will oversee the emergence of new liveries for its three hero brands, with an overall brand for its website and other identities. The sucess or failure of the city's new transport companies are based on four key areas going forward: the supply and pricing of Parking, Priority measures for public transport over cars and how these are enforced, more Park and Ride and Planning for sustainable communities.
The opportunities for further integrated ticketing could include cycle or car hire and taxis, plug-in technology will provide for electric buses and as much ambition is needed for walking and cycling as for buses and cars.
Once the initial operation has proved its value, Transport for Edinburgh will be a champion for more tram, once confidence has been established that it is a must have, rather than a nice to have. The residents and visitors to the capital can have confidence that the planning for the future of Edinburgh's transport system is well underway.
Report and photograph by John Yellowlees.
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