(The following is the text of Community Councils Together on Trams’ repose to the second consultation about the proposed extension of Edinburgh Trams to Newhaven. It was submitted in November 2018.)
Community Councils Together on Trams: response to tram extension consultation 2
- Community Councils Together on Trams (CCTT), the coalition of the four Community Councils along the proposed route extension, was formed in June 2018 to respond to the proposed tram extension from York Place to Newhaven.
- This was accompanied by the publication of CCTT’s Joint Statement which sets out CCTT’s support in principle for the tram extension, but also a number of serious concerns around the on-street design, the impact on the local economy along the proposed tram corridor, the absence of an up-to-date environmental case, and the very tight time frame – from June to December 2018 (when the final decision to go ahead was due be made by CEC) – to address these concerns.
- There exists – currently – a most successful eco-system along the proposed tram extension and its hinterland, where a wide variety of businesses and a reasonable public transport system sustain the most densely populated area in Scotland and where the majority of households don’t use a car. This must not be damaged beyond repair during construction or reduced to a sterile transport corridor with an unattractive – or even more polluted – pedestrian environment post construction
- Since June, CCTT members have participated in all public events, exhibitions and a number of workshops following the publication of the first designs for the tram extension. In addition, CCTT has held monthly meeting with the Tram Team, working through CCTT’s key concerns.
- In the course of these meetings with the Tram Team, CCTT has realised that the Tram Team’s scope is too narrow and does not include many of the ‘supplementary’ projects that CCTT see as essential to helping the existing successful ‘eco-system’ along the route survive – and that are crucial to the successful operation of the tram post-construction. CCTT is aware of a number of good initiatives that are currently being pursued by CEC, but remains concerned that the envisaged timelines – including the horizons of 2030 and 2050 – do not meet the needs of the area post construction (2022). Sufficient progress of these projects (in terms of plans, budgets, timelines) prior to the final decision would be a key factor for CCTT’s support continuing in the run up to the final decision the period of early contractor involvement, and, crucially, during construction.
- Aware of the timeline extension to March 2019 for a full CEC decision on whether or not to go ahead with the tram extension at this point in time, CCTT is keen to work with the Tram Team and relevant CEC departments to progress our remaining outstanding concerns. Measured against CCTT’s Joint Statement from June 2018, these are:
- Design issues: while many of the initial concerns have been resolved with the current designs, more detailed design work is required
- in a few locations (especially at Ocean Drive, Constitution Street south; Shrub Place, Picardy Place)
- optimising communal bin locations
- refining bus stops/bays/shelters locations and dimensions
- resolving issues around pavement/cycling/bus stop interactions at a number of locations
- parking/loading locations (including side streets).
- CCTT believes that this can be achieved in the available time, but such detailing may require additional design resources and a sincere engagement with the people most affected.
- Environmental case: this remains very weak, as it currently relies on the 2006 Tram Act’s Environmental Impact Assessment (based on 2003 data). Independent of the legal requirements flowing from this (cumulative effects need to be considered, post-project monitoring of completed tram report to York Place is required) – without a modal shift (which may be as low as 1% according to the 2006 modelling) – CCTT believes that there is a moral obligation to revisit this based on recent data and the latest modelling of predicted traffic flows and modal shift post-construction and for the initial 3-5 years of tram operation.
- Life during construction and business support: more information on logistic details and funding arrangements for businesses along the route is required at a very early stage to allow them to adapt; a timeline – starting now (November 2018) through Early Contractor Involvement (May 2019) to on-site start (September 2019) – detailing when information will become available should be published now.
- The single most important requirement during construction is a stable, clean and legible public realm outside the three lanes used for construction. The quality of this environment should be so high and self-explanatory that most of the time only minimal sign-posting will be required. Examples to emulate include the Robertson site at 10 George Street and Laing O’Rourke during (most of) the Leith Street closure.
- Early clarity is required: where will re-routed buses run, where will they stop and what will be the impact on real travel times for bus passengers and road traffic? This needs to be spelt out now – at least in outline – and with ‘typical illustrations’ to overcome doubts or even resistance.
- Evidence is required that key CEC departments are resilient enough to cope with the additional stress they will come under during construction on the tram route and in the side streets, namely: waste collection, street lighting, road repairs and enforcement. Will these departments have additional resources? Are they ready to adjust their operational plans during the tram construction to ensure that there is some semblance of normality for hard-pressed residents and businesses?
- ‘Supplementary’ projects: most of these are not ‘supplementary’ in CCTT’s view, but are essential for the success of the tram extension. There is no point in inserting world-class tram infrastructure into a densely populated area, where most people walk and use existing public transport, if this damages – perhaps permanently – other vital elements of the ‘eco-system’.
- More information (including project ownership, timelines, budgets, funding) and commitment is needed on the following – partial – list of “supplementary” projects and this needs to be visible prior to the final decision by CEC:
- Priority Parking Area extension north from City Centre to ensure that the tram infrastructure does not attract more informal commuter “park and ride” and the attendant congestion and pollution
- Integrated Ticketing and well-designed and signposted interchanges to make inter-modal use of tram and buses a realistic possibility
- Road Renewal Programme in the wider tram corridor to ensure side streets are fit for purpose (pavement renewals to support pedestrian movement, diverted motor traffic)
- Cycle Link from Leith Walk via Kirkgate to Ocean Terminal
- Roundabout Easter Road/Duke Street
- Duncan Place improvements
- CCTT is pleased that there is now extra time available to work through the above. However, in addition to time, CCTT also believe that there may also be a need to allocate additional, comparatively modest resources to the Tram Team and those council departments charged with providing vital input to ensure the Tram Extension Project does not go forward under-prepared – like last time – but with the best possible planning.
- CCTT believes that a broadly-supported Tram Project – ‘co-owned’ by the population and businesses along the route – is far more likely to succeed and that this can only be achieved through improved communication and fine-grained engagement which in turn need to be fully resourced.
- Even if Lord Hardie’s report is available prior to the final decision to go ahead, it will be important to understand what lessons have been learned and how these have been translated into practice during the planning and – later – the implementation of the Tram Extension project. -Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.’
CCTT is a coalition of the four community councils along the proposed tram extension: Leith Central Community Council – Leith Links Community Council – Leith Harbour and Newhaven Community Council – New Town and Broughton Community Council