Trams connect east and west Berlin

What’s not to like about trams?  Why does Edinburgh insist on digging  itself into a dismal hole instead of exciting people with a picture of what a modern transport system means for the city?  Come on, it’s a horrible wet day, let’s go for a YouTube ride on a tram…maybe starting in Barcelona for a taste of optimism and forward thinking.

But first I must explain why I need a trip out of town. Last night I heard a truly depressing account of the infighting which is delaying  progress of Edinburgh’s one tramline.  It was a private meeting so I won’t name names (oh, it’s so tempting!) but I will repeat the quote attributed to the new chief of TIE, the company with the daunting task of getting a tram onto the streets of Scotland’s capital city by 2011.

Every time the Evening News prints a negative story about the trams

it adds another £10 million to the price.

That’s Richard Jeffrey, formerly the boss at Edinburgh airport, who needs to convince a formidable coalition –  a negative mass of  malevolent media, misguided politicians and misinformed public – that trams are an essential part of a  21st century public transport system  in a city which aspires to being a European capital.

There were happier times when as one Libdem councillor put it ‘consensus broke out’ at least for a few minutes in the City Chamber three years ago. I remember feeling quite moved when on 22 December 2006 I watched the chamber rise (with one exception) to cast their vote in favour of investing in the tram. (and went home to blog about it.)


Of course there are some places where you can go by boat…

But no more looking back. Now we can actually see the tramlines on Princes Street it is really time to look forward. And though  TIE is trying harder to add a touch of genuine enthusiasm to their website I think they need much more razzamatazz. Since they will get no help from our local press, here’s how other cities do it.

A few moments on YouTube is a bit of a treat especially on a rainy day. It shows how trams can bring style, speed and spirit to city streets. Places like Helsinki and Amsterdam sell the city to tourists with tram videos. Ok, I know I am biased but try this ride on a Paris tram, sliding through suburbs, along the Seine, up tree-lined boulevards,  seats emptying, seats filling up…oh to be in Paris.

But you don’t even need to go to mainland Europe. Here’s an upbeat view of Manchester (with a kind of Avengers soundtrack), or Dublin, or Croydon where joblessness fell and house prices rose in areas connected by tram.  In each city to ensure good connections trams are integrated with buses – just as they will be in Edinburgh. Enjoy the ride.

Feast 1_1No, no trams…just a reminder that Edinburgh can be fun and creative (see FEAST) we just need to make sure the city fathers remember that too.