New tram route is a landmark event for the city - Scott Arthur

Very soon I’ll be joining the first passengers to ride the brand-new tram route from the city centre to Newhaven. Opening the line will be a landmark event and I know people across the city share my excitement.
Councillor Professor Scott ArthurCouncillor Professor Scott Arthur
Councillor Professor Scott Arthur

Of course, it would be an understatement to say that the last few years have been challenging for residents and businesses along the new route. Their patience and resilience during this time has humbled me, and I’m grateful for their cooperation.

I’d like to thank the project team, too, for their hard work - despite recent pressures from the Covid pandemic, Brexit and the immoral invasion of Ukraine – to successfully complete the project on time and within the £207.3m budget.

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There’s no doubt that the delivery of the line to Newhaven was a success because it learnt key lessons from the original line between the airport and St Andrew Square. While we await the findings of Lord Hardie’s inquiry with great interest, thanks to Trams to Newhaven we can be confident that we already have the processes in place to deliver major infrastructure schemes effectively.

Long term, I know both north Edinburgh and the entire city will reap the benefits of the completed line.

We’re already seeing a range of new business and development ventures popping up on the route, from traders occupying the newly-developed Stead’s Place building on Leith Walk to the waterfront neighbourhood planned for Ocean Terminal.

As I write, we’re nearing another milestone, with one year to go until enforcement starts on our Low Emission Zone (LEZ) on 1 June 2024. Tomorrow, Glasgow’s LEZ comes into force, and I’ll be watching closely to see how well it stops the most polluting vehicles entering the boundary, and to understand any impact on wellbeing and the economy.

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Research has shown air pollution can be damaging to everyone’s health so it’s essential that we take action. A great deal of modelling and research has gone into the development of Edinburgh’s city centre LEZ, which is expected to have knock-on positive impacts across the wider city.

Over the next year we’ll continue to raise awareness of the scheme, while also encouraging the switch to more sustainable forms of travel, like walking, cycling or public transport – the Tram and Lothian Buses are already fully LEZ compliant!

It’s clear that we need to make changes to the way we move into and around Edinburgh. We’re working on a range of actions to create a more liveable, healthy place for everyone, with a transport system which supports our net zero 2030 goals, helps us cut congestion and to meet our ambitions to reduce kms travelled by car by 30 per cent by 2030.

Like leading cities across Europe, Edinburgh is on a transition to a safe, inclusive, sustainable and efficient transport system, and initiatives like the LEZ and Trams to Newhaven are key to this. To help us to complete this journey we’ve drafted a suite of action plans addressing everything from air quality to road safety, public transport to active travel.

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We want to know what you think about these action plans. Just this week, we kicked off a series of drop- in events where you can find out more about the plans and have your say. Visit our website to find out where your nearest event is and take part in our online consultation so you can play your part in developing our future Edinburgh.

Councillor Scott Arthur, Transport and Environment Convener

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