TRAM passengers travelling to Edinburgh Airport will pay a premium fare of £4.50 – £1 more than a bus ticket.
And the cost of a £7.50 return ticket to the terminal is set to eclipse its Airlink rival by £1.50, the Evening News can reveal.
The high cost comes despite the fact that the tram will take around eight minutes longer than the Airlink bus service to travel into the city centre.
Passengers using the tram to travel to and from the park and ride site at Ingliston will also pay a premium, with fares rising to £2.50 for a single.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds defended the tram fare price, arguing that it offered a “fast, comfortable, convenient and reliable transport option at a very good price”.
She said: “With Lothian Buses, we’ve ensured that the bus and tram ticketing systems are fully integrated for ease of use and to keep costs low.
“Ridacards and day tickets will be usable across bus and tram while a single ticket will be the same price across both.
“Like most cities, there’s an airport supplement and this is part of the business model to ensure the service is cost effective in operation.”
The fare prices can be revealed following a Freedom of Information request seen by the Evening News that appears to have scuppered council hopes of keeping the airport rates under wraps until a later date.
Children’s prices range from a 70p single ticket to a £4 return fare to the airport.
The move has raised concerns that Lothian Buses – which operates both services – may raise the price of its successful airport shuttle service to match tram fares.
Tram and bus tickets for journeys within the city are currently matched at £1.50.
Cllr Hinds said she would heap political pressure on Lothian Buses not to raise the flat-rate fare in the city ahead of the tram launch date.
She said: “The price is £1.50 for a bus and same for a tram and obviously my expectation is, following discussions with Lothian Buses, that they don’t want to raise the fares.”
An umbrella body – dubbed Transport for Edinburgh and consisting of four existing Lothian Buses executives – has been assigned to run the tram and bus services. The board will comprise several non-executive directors and four elected councillors.
Cllr Joanna Mowat, transport spokeswoman for Edinburgh Conservatives, insisted she was “reasonably comfortable” with the higher tram fare to the airport. She said: “It’s not entirely a comparable service with the bus and if by having that premium there it can protect the Edinburgh user [in keeping to a flat rate] that has got to be the priority.”
Journey times across the city are expected to improve significantly once all tram works are lifted on October 9 and many traders were buoyant at the news that six years of tram-related disruption were now coming to an end.
But tram critic Grant McKeeman, who runs Copymade shop on West Maitland Street, raised an eyebrow at the announcement roadworks would cease imminently and trams would hit the streets by May next year.
“I can’t believe it until it actually happens,” he said. “The goalposts are forever moving with this project.”
Businessman Josh Miller, chair of the George Street Association, said momentum was building for the trams but said many could not remember a time before the city was blighted by the transport project.
He said: “It’s been so long that a lot of people will have forgotten what the city is like without the road works. There is some excitement remembering what it’s like to get our city back.”
TESTING TIME AS CARRIAGES WILL ROLL ALONG AT SNAIL’S PACE
A ROBUST testing and commissioning phase will begin just weeks after tram works are lifted in a programme that will see more than 150 test journeys daily on the line.
Trams travelling through the city centre from December 9 will be seen mostly in the early hours of the morning and moving only at walking pace before building up speed later.
All testing will cease from December 20 to allow the city a break during the Christmas shopping rush but runs will resume from January 7 and “pick up in frequency”.
During testing, tram doors will remain closed and transport chiefs are keen for the public to become safety conscious of the quiet new system.
Transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “I understand there will be frustration for people but there are 246 tests to be carried out on each tram.”
It’ll be brave new world for Andrew
SIX-YEAR-OLD Andrew Hunter has known nothing but tram works since his birth in 2007 – just months after the first shovel touched ground in Ocean Drive near the Waterfront.
But come next month the Leith-born youngster can finally enjoy his favourite landmarks without the eyesore of steel railings, machinery and cavernous holes in the ground. Mum Angela, 36, said: “Andrew’s never seen an Edinburgh Christmas without it being chaotic so I think he’ll appreciate the city more.
“He likes looking at the Castle and the Scott Monument and now all the works are down off Princes Street it’s much easier for him to see these things.”