TRANSPORT chiefs are changing the planned name of a city tram stop in a bid to boost footfall in a hard-pressed shopping stretch ravaged by years of tramworks.
The Shandwick Place platform is being rebranded West End-Princes Street following a request by traders who feel the new name has greater associations to the city centre and will encourage more tourists to get off there.
It comes just days after the council announced that all roadworks would be removed by mid-October with trams set to hit the Capital’s streets no later than May.
Testing along the line will see trams on Princes Street by December but all trials will cease during the festive period.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said the updated tram stop would be considered at next week’s council meeting and rubberstamped in time for signage to be produced.
She said: “I think this is a good move and a really positive suggestion by traders in the West End area. They’ve had tram works on their doorstep for quite some time now so we are very keen to make this happen.
“The new stop name will inform visitors to the city that they are in the West End and near to Princes Street.
“The West End is a vibrant part of the city with much to offer residents and visitors alike and anything that promotes this is a benefit.”
She added: “The city centre will be clear of tram works in a matter of weeks and this will be a relief to everyone. It’s now time to grasp the opportunities ahead of us as we develop Edinburgh’s integrated transport system.”
Tram critic Grant McKeeman, who runs Copymade printing shop on West Maitland Street, doesn’t oppose the move but wished transport chiefs had listened to traders’ complaints earlier rather than indulging in “trivialities”.
He said: “It makes the area sound more central so if you are a tourist I would imagine you might have heard of Princes Street but probably not Shandwick Place.
“They might be more inclined to get off at that stop which might increase footfall. But I don’t think it will make a lot of difference and it might just please the council to think that they are doing the traders some favours.
“They should have done much more when the work was going on.”
Shadow transport spokeswoman Joanna Mowat said the renaming reinforced the branding of West End.
She said: “This is probably more helpful given the work the traders have done in creating the West End village. It reinforces that and secures that identity.
“It also means the money that has been spent creating that identity has not been wasted.
“From a navigational point of view it’s sensible as people won’t know Shandwick Place unless they know Edinburgh terribly well.
“What we are trying to flag up is that this is the first opportunity to get off near Princes Street.
“It’s a very long street and trying to signal to people where the opportunity is to get off is helpful.”
Opening date is ahead of schedule
THE city centre will be clear of tram civil engineering works by October with Haymarket – Dalry Road to Manor Place – now set to reopen to traffic around October 12 and Shandwick Place crescents to open around October 19.
The tram service is now forecast to be up and running for passengers in May 2014, two months ahead of the revised target of July 2014.
Plans have been set out for the hand over of a section of the tram route between Gogar depot and Edinburgh Park for testing in early October with full route testing in December.