A TRAM crash that sparked tailbacks across the city centre in the morning rush hour can be blamed on a reckless cyclist, the Evening News can reveal.
The collision at West Maitland Street occurred when a bus driver veered into a moving tram after being forced to swerve by a cyclist who “jumped” into his path from the pavement.
Both vehicles, which were travelling towards Princes Street, sustained minor damage as the bus swung right into the side of the tram.
No-one was hurt in the incident at 7.45am yesterday.
The crash triggered delays for commuters with long tailbacks reported in all directions, while the tram line was disrupted for nearly three hours.
The tram, which had not been derailed, was taken to its Gogar depot for inspection after the First bus was towed away.
Witnesses told how the cyclist – who was not wearing fluorescent clothing – weaved in and out of traffic before springing from the pavement into the roadway.
He was then seen pedalling away from the crash scene.
An eyewitness who declined to be named said: “I was 100 yards behind when the accident happened, walking towards the town.
“The cyclist was weaving and navigating the traffic and jumped on to the pavement.
“They jumped just in front of the bus and the driver was obviously trying not to hit the cyclist and there was a bang.”
He added: “The cyclist wasn’t wearing bright colours or anything, no fluorescent vest.
“I was expecting [the bus driver] to hit them. The cyclist was just in front of the bus – it was hard to tell the distance from where I was but I saw the bus veer to the right.”
Emergency services scrambled three fire engines to the crash while a cordon was erected at the eastbound carriageway of West Maitland Street while engineers assessed the damage.
A Police Scotland spokesman said inquiries were ongoing but it is understood no-one else is being sought in connection with the incident.
Edinburgh Trams apologised for the disruption to its service and passengers travelling aboard the affected tram.
A spokeswoman said: “One of our trams was hit by a First bus in West Maitland Street.
“After recovery of the bus by a tow truck, engineers were able to assess the tram on- street and drive it back to the depot, where a full damage assessment will be carried out.”
She added: “We’ve reviewed our CCTV footage and are satisfied that our driver was not at fault and that our procedures for handling an incident like this were followed appropriately.
“Services resumed on the full line at 10.38am and are now running normally.
“We’d like to apologise to any passengers affected by the incident.”
The spokeswoman would not be drawn on the circumstances of the crash.
A First Bus spokesman said the firm would be launching an investigation into the accident.
He said: “We can confirm that one of our service 38 buses travelling from Falkirk to Edinburgh was involved in a low-speed minor incident with a tram in Edinburgh’s West End.”
Yesterday’s collision is the second crash to befall the network in the last five weeks. Last month, a private coach collided with a tram close to the Shandwick Place tram stop. Services were disrupted for an hour.
Last week, campaigners called for safety improvements around tram tracks after a cyclist captured his own dramatic tumble on camera.
And in the first week of the line’s long-awaited launch, a 14-year-old girl suffered “bumps and bruises” after being knocked down in Princes Street.
The News reported how she sustained a “glancing blow” that sent her sprawling to the ground.
Questions raised by accident
Q Why did it take so long to clear the roadway when there appeared to be minor damage to bus and tram?
A The tram, which was wedged beside the bus but was not derailed, could not be moved until a tow truck arrived to remove the bus.
Q Where was the tram removed to following the crash?
A The tram was returned to the Gogar depot for further examination. Senior managers also reviewed the CCTV in full to investigate the incident.
Q Why was the area cordoned off?
A The emergency services cordoned off the eastbound carriageway to ensure engineers could work safely to assess the crash scene. Police officers were also in attendance to help direct traffic.
Q How did the passengers exit the tram and how were they able to continue their journey?
A Passengers were escorted off the tram at West Maitland Place and were advised to continue their journey by bus or on foot.
Transport for Edinburgh refused to answer the following questions:
What procedures are in place if a tram is derailed?
Have lessons been learned for the future?
Have investigators ascertained the cause of the crash?
‘The tram must have been oot last night’
Moments after the tram v bus collision, social media was awash with comments about the incident . . . and well-trodden opinions of Edinburgh’s new light rail network.
@finyoung: I think it’s funny that whenever an Edinburgh tram is in even the slightest bit of bother, it makes national news. Today, one hit a bus!
@always_amy_B: @Edinburgh_Tram Heard about your wee bump this morning. Hope you’re okay, Tam xx
@AmandaNourish: Ouch. Morning bump in Edinburgh. Tram vs. Bus. Don’t drive to west end.
@Ken_J_Murray: Trafficageddon at Haymarket - bus and tram crash in #Edinburgh
@mik61scot: EdinburghTram fails to drive around bus proving £1bn well spent! #shocker
@Jkub: Is the bus better, or the tram? THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO FIND OUUT
@GemmaHibee: This bus tram collision in Edinburgh today, did the driver not see the tram creeping up on him?
@Craig_Thomson: Tram he must have been oot last night,