Integrating transport for an expanding Edinburgh

The capital is growing. Since 1983, Edinburgh’s population has increased by 14% and in the next 20 years, it is expected to grow by a further 19%. This expansion is testament to how attractive the city is as a place in which to live and work. It also highlights a level of confidence and optimism about the future of Edinburgh.

But we all know that our streets are already very busy with vehicles, moving this growing population around. Yes, this is a challenge but the choices for Edinburgh’s transport infrastructure are as much about enabling economic prosperity as they are about practical logistics.

Parts of the city have been transformed beyond recognition in the last thirty years with several prominent locations about to experience the same level of change imminently, such as at Caltongate and Haymarket. As businesses and investors consider the potential for other parts of the city, transport options that fully integrated into the visions for those sites will be a key factor in decision making.

One obvious example is the tram line between the airport and York Place and its role in opening up new opportunities along a western corridor. The Council has also indicated that it is keeping its options open for continuing the line, as originally planned, to Leith and the waterfront, while others have also commented on extension even beyond that.

However, my responsibility is to focus on successfully operating the tram service in itself and as part of an integrated offering with our buses. As I write, pre-launch, we are well on track with our preparations and the route testing going very much to plan. I hope that, by the time you read this, you will have had the opportunity to take a journey on the tram and seen for yourself how it will help to usher in a new era of transport in Edinburgh.

Indeed, the tram represents not just a practical evolution in how we move around the city, but also signals how much Edinburgh values innovation, investment and connectivity.

Our priority will always be to improve the passenger experience across the board, from integrated, smart ticketing to bringing in more low carbon buses for a quieter, cleaner journey. But in coming months and years, Transport for Edinburgh can also work as an umbrella brand for integrated travel in the city, including ‘active’ modes such as cycling and walking.

So, we are actually on two journeys at once. The first is to make the very best of our tram, bus and other modes available just now, and to continue innovating in service delivery. The second is to anticipate what infrastructure and facilities future generations will need and to begin preparing for that now.

Taken together, the vision is simple: to provide world-class environmentally-friendly and socially-inclusive transport that helps Edinburgh maximise the potential of its people and its economy.

As featured in Business Comment magazine. To read the full magazine follow the link to our website: http://www.edinburghchamber.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/BC29_.pdf

If you do not receive Business Comment and would like to please email membershipadmin@edinburghchamber.co.uk

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