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Transport Economics: The Return of Trams - Benefits and Costs
Trams have been experiencing a revival in a number of towns and cities in the past few decades. Edinburgh is the latest city to invest in trams, and hopes they will boost local economy. But do the benefits outweigh costs? Manchester, Sheffield, Blackpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and Croydon have all installed trams / light rail and others are considering investment. The Edinburgh trams at running (at last) but the jury will remain out for a long time about their net impact on economic activity, traffic congestion and the broader health of Edinburgh and the local environs.
The Edinburgh Tram project has cost more than twice the original budget and has been delayed by over four years. An eastern extension to the Port of Leith has been postponed although preparatory work on the tram rails has already been completed.
Tram passenger numbers in Edinburgh are forecast to rise from 4.5m to 8.2m over the first 15 years, with fare income to climb from £7.7m £20.8m per year.
Economist John Kay has been a fierce critic of the Edinburgh tram project - this article written in 2011 is well worth a read for those looking for a vocal opposition to trams compared to fresh investment in bus transport.
The 14km (8.7 miles) route runs from Edinburgh Airport to York Place in the city centre, with 15 stops along the way.
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