One of Edinburgh’s biggest showpiece events has advised visitors to steer clear of the tram – just weeks after the £776 million project went live.
Organisers of the Royal Highland Show (RHS), which opens today and attracts more than 170,000 people, have warned those travelling to avoid the tram.
A notice on their website reads: “Trams – we do not recommend anyone taking trams to the Show as the stops are a long way away.”
The tram stop nearest to the showground is at Ingliston park and ride, about three-quarters of a mile away. The next stop is the airport.
Edinburgh Tory transport spokeswoman Joanna Mowat said it was “really disappointing” the major tourist attraction was “so discouraging about the tram when it has every other form of travel planning on its website”. “It’s a pity people could not be a little more positive,” she said.
Alongside its advice on the trams, added Cllr Mowat, the RHS had highlighted train stations at Edinburgh Park, South Gyle, Haymarket and Waverley as well as air and bus links to reach the showground.
Green transport spokesman Nigel Bagshaw said the travel advice was “disappointing” given the huge tailbacks often experienced by RHS visitors attending by car.
“For many people a visit to the show will be a first opportunity to take a tram trip as well, adding to the overall experience,” he said. “Surely it is better for people to have a trip on a tram which can be timed fairly precisely, followed by a short walk, rather than the uncertainty and discomfort of a traffic jam.”
Edinburgh Western SNP MSP Colin Keir said the walk may be too strenuous for people who were not particularly fit but questioned why shuttle buses had not been run between Ingliston Park & Ride and the Royal Highland Showground. He said: “They are giving an honest appraisal of the service people are going to get from the trams.”
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said people would make different decisions about how to get to the Highland Show.
“There’s a direct bus that takes you right there from the city centre.”
She said she remembered taking an airport bus, getting off at a stop on the main road and walking five or ten minutes to the showground from there.
And she suggested the walk from the park-and-ride tram stop would not put everyone off. “If it’s nice weather many people probably could walk – that way, we would be encouraging walking as well.
“It’s about giving people choices. I would like to talk to the Highland show people about these choices and see what we can do about giving people all the information they need.”
A spokesperson for Transport for Edinburgh said: “We’ve put on a special bus, service 98, which runs every ten minutes from the city. Our tram service may be an option for some visitors but the stop is a significant walk away.”
An RHS spokeswoman said some people would use the tram to get to the show, but the walk from the park-and-ride was about 15 minutes and included narrow footpaths along busy roads.
“It’s probably not the safest route for people. As responsible events organisers we are suggesting people might like to take the bus instead.
“It’s not a designated walking route and if you have young kids a 15-minute walk in the heat is probably not advisable.
“A million people come to the showground every year – we would love it if there was a tram stop at the Royal Highland Centre.”