Sunday, 28 August 2011

How To Discourage People From Coming To Your City

Watching Scotland’s three representatives in the Europa League fall before the competition proper started was depressing & dispiriting. Yet it wasn’t as depressing as the shockingly small minded and short termist decision made by Edinburgh City Council over the trams debacle.

To be fair to this lot, they have form with terrible decisions on this project.  Whether it is their choice of contractor or whether it is the contract decisions, Edinburgh City Council have not covered themselves in glory with this project.  Come to think of it, not very many of Scotland’s politicians have covered themselves in glory with calls for a public inquiry.  The terms of which must look into how a local council made such a balls up.
What this cock up will do is put our leaders off of any kind of transport projects, unless it relates to roads.  Rather than be put off of these kind of projects, Scotland needs more of these kind of projects.  Take for example Glasgow.  To the uninitiated pedestrian, it is not the most accessible place to get around.  A certain amount of local knowledge is needed to get around Glasgow, what number of bus to get or where exactly the Underground stations are.  Before the mishandled Trams project in Edinburgh, a route from east to west and a route from north to south would have been conceivable.

Not just Glasgow.  It is shocking that a town the size of Paisley does not have a single transport hub.  East Kilbride has a bus station, which is fairly easy to use and find busses that will take you to where you want to go.  Yet Paisley, which is now struggling to hold on to it’s status as Scotland’s largest town has no such facility.  With the added element of their busses effectively stopping after about 7pm, city – you’re having a laugh!

When I visited Manchester (above) to see Depeche Mode just before Christmas 2009, I was very impressed with how easy it was to get around the city.  The trams were easy to use, there was a bus that took us from the train station to the Arndale Centre, and there were no sullen drivers spitting “Twoseventyfiiiivvve” at you.  All in all, a very pleasant experience which is the way it should be.  Yet I don’t remember headlines about how over budget the Manchester tram’s were, I don’t remember stories about how badly run the building of the trams were.  Indeed the trams are undergoing an expansion programme.  Go to places like Amsterdam, Munich or Berlin and it’s exactly the same thing.  So what’s the problem Edinburgh?

For a country that relies so much on tourism, we show no desire to improve the transport infrastructure – which would attract more visitors & help those of us that stay here.  Even the other project our politicians were very keen on – the Glasgow Airport Rail Link – showed a distinct lack of thought.  Had it been a proposal to link up Glasgow Airport to Govan, Braehead Shopping Centre and Renfrew it would have been much more beneficial to those communities and to the West of Scotland as a whole than an express service between Glasgow & the Airport. 

There are transport projects that are desirable that would help people to get around our towns and cities that little bit easier.  Those projects are the true victims of Edinburgh City Councils ineptitude, as it will now be just that little bit more difficult to get those projects off the ground.

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