Edinburgh Tram board gets transport veteran leader

Charles Monheim will chair the new board. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
Charles Monheim will chair the new board. Picture: Malcolm McCurrach
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THE man behind London’s Oystercard will be chair the board of Edinburgh Tram in a major shake up the leadership of public transport in the city.

A host of new faces are set to take on top jobs at Transport for Edinburgh, as management of Lothian Buses and the city’s tram system are brought closer together.

The appointment of the first non-executive directors of the tram will bring its corporate structure into line with Lothian Buses for the first time.

And in a sign that the council is seeking to put the damaging boardroom row between former bus company chief executive Ian Craig and his deputies behind it, almost all the non-executives at the firm are being replaced.

American Charles Monheim, who has held senior roles at Transport for London and New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, will lead the board of Edinburgh Trams, subject to the approval of the full council on May 28.

Mr Monheim, who is married to a Scot and moved to Edinburgh in 2014, played a key role in establishing the iconic Oystercard payment system across London public transport.

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “These new appointments will really help us to look to the future of public transport in Edinburgh and to achieve our vision of a first-class, fully integrated service, combining Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams.

“I believe our new members will bring the perfect mix of transport, business and management expertise to the companies, along with a wealth of experience, which will be pivotal as we continue to improve the city for public transport users, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.”

Mr Monheim will be joined on the tram board by Charlene Wallace, a business executive with experience in the rail and air travel sectors, and Andy Neal, the former chief executive of city centre business district Essential Edinburgh.

The board of Lothian Buses also sees a host of new arrivals, with interim general manager Jim McFarlane replacing Tony Depledge as chair. Mr Depledge was put in charge of the board after the resignation of former chair Ann Faulds, in an effort to steady the company in the wake of the power struggle between Mr Craig and the Annandale Three.

Other non-executive directors set to be appointed include former Labour MSP and Scottish health minister Susan Deacon, transport consultant and Scottish Futures Trust infrastructure director Tony Rose, and bus executive Mark Yaxley. Ms Wallace will also sit on the Lothian Buses board.

Of the current non-executive directors at Lothian Buses, banker Donald Macleod remains in post, with his tenure extended another two years, and transport consultant Steve Cassidy has a year left to run on his appointment.

John Martin, who led the investigation into Mr Craig, and Marjory Rodger, who was a prominent critic of the council’s handling of the affair, will both depart.

Mr McFarlane and Mr Monheim will also sit as non-executive directors at Transport for Edinburgh, alongside city transport convener councillor Lesley Hinds, and fellow transport spokespeople councillors Adam McVey, Joanna Mowat and Nigel Bagshaw.

Cllr Burns added: “We have already achieved so much in Transport for Edinburgh’s first year, with excellent customer satisfaction, increasing patronage and a host of new developments on their way.

“Therefore I would also like to thank outgoing members for their contributions, particularly Tony Depledge, who stepped in as interim chair to guide the company during a very challenging time.”

Lothian Buses General Manager Jim McFarlane said: “I’m extremely proud to have been recommended for this role and I look forward to continuing my work with the team at Lothian Buses. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing board members John Martin and Marjory Rodger for their contributions over the years and particularly Tony Depledge who has guided the company as Interim Chair during a challenging time.

“Company performance so far this year continues to be strong and we are in a good place to move forward and to play a central role in the economic success of Edinburgh and the Lothians - this is an important and sometimes understated part of what we do. I want this company to be a key player in the ongoing enhancement of public transport in Edinburgh as part of the Transport for Edinburgh group. Between us all we’ve got what it takes to deliver, not only for Lothian Buses, but for Edinburgh and the wider city region as a whole.”