Council hails public’s Twitter transport questions

Lesley Hinds was the first to be questioned by the public via Twitter. Picture: Joey Kelly
Lesley Hinds was the first to be questioned by the public via Twitter. Picture: Joey Kelly
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A NEW series of Twitter ­sessions with council chiefs was launched yesterday – prompting a flurry of 140-character questions from ­Edinburgh voters.

The development marked what could be a new dawn in the way elected figures interact with their task masters, and had raised fears the foray into social media could be either one of the bravest, or most stupid, stunts ever organised by the authority.

Launching the project on the issue of transport given the near £1 billion tram debacle was especially bold.

But social media participants and the council both closed the day pleased with what has been deemed a valuable session – and one that touched on a number of key issues.

Cllr Lesley Hinds, transport convener, who furiously typed her way through the session, earned rare praise from those quizzing her during the social media session. One, @edtrambles, said: “Thanks Lesley, at least you put your head above the parapet!”

The council’s transport chief fielded questions over the £776 million trams project, quality standards at Leith Links and plans to introduce a London-style Oyster Card for the transport network.

She said a Ridacard system would be first introduced for the Capital’s buses and trams, with new overarching body Transport for Edinburgh to investigate extending the scheme to suburban rail services and First Bus routes.

Other key revelations included her desire to slash the length of bus lanes across Edinburgh to ease traffic congestion.

The suggestion will be included in the review of all city bus lanes due to be reported on in spring next year.

In the hour-long session she also revealed bus-lane cameras at sites including Old Dalkeith Road and outside the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will also be examined based on need.

Operational hours for bus lanes and the types of vehicles allowed to use the corridors will also be considered, she revealed, with the potential to change the laws to adapt to the city’s changing transport network.

Flashing bus-lane signs could be introduced. Inefficient bus lanes are also likely to be adjusted or cut altogether.

Councillor Hinds said a ­proposal put forward during the Q&A for bus lanes to stop further from traffic lights to alleviate jams and allow cars to turn left into that lane would be weighed up in the review.

However, Cllr Hinds refused to back the stance of Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson, who is planning to remove all of the city’s 24 bus lanes in a nine-month long experiment.

She instead tweeted: “Council has supported the use of bus lanes for many years to encourage public transport use.”

A number of sessions on other subjects are now planned. A council spokesman said the sessions are part of the authority’s efforts to consult as widely as possible.