Below is a briefing from Council Officers following reports that free concessionary tram travel may end in Edinburgh. The aim of the proposal appears to have been to transfer responsibility for paying for free travel to Transport for Edinburgh (the parent company of Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams) – the paper was told: “It is proposed the council cease funding this. It would then be up to Lothian Buses, Edinburgh Trams / Transport for Edinburgh or potentially the Scottish Government to fund concessionary fares”. This immediately raises questions about Transport for Edinburgh’s willingness to fund free travel, and where the money would be found. The reality is that the Council should be challenging the Scottish Government to cover the costs.
Thank you very much for your comments on concessionary travel tram fares. There has been a lot of recent focus on this, partly as a result of some inaccurate reporting.
The council recognises that public transport services are integral to people accessing all areas of the city, inclusivity and accessibility are important principles that overarch council policies. Each year, as part of our detailed budget discussions, the administration receives proposals and ideas from officers, which are then carefully considered before any decision is made as part of preparing a balanced budget.
Council officers regularly bring forward proposals for Elected Member consideration. A recent proposal from officers, which was inappropriately forwarded onto the media, has resulted in media comment that we are actively considering cutting the concessionary trams fares, currently paid for by the Council. This financial responsibility for tram concessionary fares is in contrast to the bus concessionary fares which are paid for by the Scottish Government on a national basis. And other local authorities do not offer this on other forms of public transport e.g. there are no concessionary fares paid by Glasgow City Council for the comparable Glasgow underground or the suburban rail network around Glasgow.
If this proposal from council officers was implemented it would simply represent a change in which organisation would pay for the scheme overall, not a withdrawal of the concessionary fares for Edinburgh residents (who are the only beneficiaries).
During the budget preparation period, there are lots of officer recommendations put forward but I can assure you that nothing has been decided on yet. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation around in this period and it can lead to upset and concern among residents who may be affected.
I hope I have reassured you that, in contrast with some conversation around this topic, there are no plans to prevent people from travelling on the trams under this scheme.