Oyster card creator appointed to Edinburgh transport role

Buses on Princes Street. Picture: Jane Barlow
Buses on Princes Street. Picture: Jane Barlow
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THE man behind London’s Oyster card will chair the Edinburgh Trams board in a major shake-up of 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, several of the non-executives at the firm are being replaced. Mr Craig is currently working his notice from the Gogar tram depot.

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 Thursday. Mr Monheim, who is married to a Scot and moved to Edinburgh in 2014, played a key role in establishing the Oyster card payment system on 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 chairman. Mr Depledge was put in charge of the board after the resignation of former chairwoman Ann Faulds, in the wake of the power struggle between Mr Craig and the so-called “Annandale Three” of operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin and finance director Norman Strachan.

Other non-executive directors to be appointed include former Labour MSP Susan Deacon, 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 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.

“I would 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.”

Mr 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.

“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. 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.”