EDINBURGH’s economic leader has said extending the city’s tram network to the south side of the city is a “no-brainer”.
But Frank Ross warned public tolerance of disruption must be a priority in planning any further routes.
Councillor Ross gave one of the strongest hints yet yesterday that the council was looking at a route to serve the south of the city, which is currently excluded from the £776 million project.
But he said lessons had to be learned from the experience of building the eight-mile route which caused chaos and forced some businesses to close.
“We have to think innovatively. To disrupt South Bridge and Minto Street would be catastrophic,” he said. “I am not an engineer, but I have been told there are other ways of re-laying the infrastructure below ground that is less disruptive than what we did before.”
Speaking during a media briefing on the economic benefits of the trams, he said it was incumbent on the council to be “cleverer” and work with the community to develop the tramway.
He said: “Hopefully, we have learned lessons. It was bad for citizens and bad for businesses, but we know we will have to extend the tram. It is a no-brainer.”
Mr Ross said consideration might be given to laying tram lines during work now under way to reconstruct Leith Walk in order to avoid further disruption at a later date – and for a third time – though this was not in the current plan.
The council claims trams will contribute to the overall development of the west of Edinburgh under the planning framework for the area, expected to add £900 million a year to the city economy. The council expects property values along the route to rise, although it says this assumption is based on experiences in other cities.