Edinburgh trams: City transport convener Scott Arthur seeks meeting with new Transport Minister Fiona Hyslop
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Ms Hyslop, who is SNP MSP for Linlithgow, was appointed to the post last week following resignation of Kevin Stewart, who said he had been struggling with his mental health. It is an unexpected return to government for the long-serving MSP who has previously served as Education Secretary, Culture Secretary and Economy Secretary. Among the big issues she will now have to deal with are the ongoing problems with ferries serving Scotland's islands and demands to speed up dualling of the A9.
But Cllr Arthur has already written to her to ask for a meeting. He said: "We would welcome dialogue on extending the tram network, installing bus priority measures, and delivering our broader ambitions for active travel in the city."
The tram extension from the city centre to Newhaven opened on June 7. But the Scottish Government's national transport blueprint published in December 2022 endorsed plans to expand Edinburgh's tram system further, including potential lines to Dalkeith and Musselburgh. And the council is now hoping funding will follow. It is also urging the government to extend its free bus travel scheme for under-22s to include the trams.
In his letter, Cllr Arthur says: "Edinburgh’s policies and ambition are well aligned with the Scottish Government's, particularly where public and active transport are concerned. With this in mind, I would welcome a meeting with you to discuss the scale of our ambition and how we can better work with the Scottish Government to solve the many transport problems Edinburgh faces and thereby unlock its economic potential.
"I am sure an issue of shared interest will be improving public transport links from surrounding local authorities into Edinburgh. As well as discussing active travel, bus priority measures, mass transit projects, I would also like to discuss the benefits of the free-under 22 bus travel scheme, and the case for expanding it to ensure young people living in some of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas can take full advantage of our expanding tram network."