Leader: Tram services will arguably be more relaxed

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Will you catch the tram when you go to the airport once the new service is up and running?

It probably depends first and foremost on where you live. But even those who stay relatively close to the tram line will have a lot to weigh up.

Cost will be important to many. We don’t know yet how tram and bus fares to the airport will compare. Speed is another factor. The fact that the tram will take eight minutes longer than the very good airport bus service will surprise – and disappoint – many people. But there are benefits to the trams too. Services will be more frequent, arguably more relaxed than the bus and seen – by visitors at least – as a “cooler” way to travel.

There’s certainly tough competition when it comes to tempting airport travellers away from the bus, taxis and their cars. The tram will have to prove itself.

It won’t be an easy touch for fare dodgers though.

The high number of ticket inspectors – three per active tram – seems very high. It is vital. given their history, that the trams provide the best possible value for money. Any further waste of public cash will simply not be tolerated.

But the instincts of the tram operators on this score are good. Far better to have too many inspectors than not enough, especially when the service launches.

The number of doors on trams means it is far easier to sneak on and off without paying than it is on a bus. Don’t police that properly and the trams will soon get a reputation as a soft touch. The last thing the city needs is to allow a culture of fare dodging to develop.

Besides, the ticket inspectors will be a reassuring presence to all the public, who will help ensure that all the rules are obeyed on the trams, not just the ticket ones.

The biggest worry for the drivers, though, is probably the lack of a loo for pit stops at York Place. Maybe a new test will have to be introduced for prospective drivers to get around that one.