Trams in Edinburgh will make a “significant” contribution to cutting the Scottish capital’s carbon footprint, a conference has been told.
City of Edinburgh Council chief executive Sue Bruce said although the scheme had been controversial, it would make the city greener by reducing car use and convincing more people to use public transport.
Princes Street is set to open to buses and taxis on Saturday 30 June and trams should be in operation by summer 2014.
York Place is due to close for more than a year, to allow the laying of tram tracks, but Princes Street will be open west of Waverley Bridge, along with The Mound.
Bruce said progress was being made and told delegates: “If you happen to be back in Edinburgh this time in summer 2014, you should be able to ride on a tram as a revenue paying member of the public.
“The tram which has brought about much controversy in Edinburgh is going to contribute quite substantially to the city’s ability to reduce its carbon footprint and make a sea change in people’s attitude to car travel.
“The original business case for the tram anticipated a 20 per cent modal shift, particularly from private car drivers to public transport including the tram. Which will be powered by electricity and will be clean, green and silent.”
“The motivation for that from the City of Edinburgh Council is manyfold: to reduce congestion; to be a more environmentally sensitive city; and to encourage mass transit in the city.”
During her speech to the conference she said progress was being made across all 32 councils to cutting carbon emissions by 2020.
She said that under the UK Government’s Green Deal, members of the Scottish Cities Alliance – which includes all of the country’s seven cities – were considering a bid that would see “retrofitting” programmes in as many as ,000 council and socially-rented homes, making them more energy efficient.
She said this would help reduce their carbon footprint, but would also ease costs for the 35 per cent of population currently living in fuel poverty – bringing “real human benefits, where people can be helped to live more comfortable lives.” The Scottish Government has set targets to cut emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.
Other speakers at the conference, held at Edinburgh’s Our Dynamic Earth, included Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson and co-chair of the Energy Advisory Group Jim McDonald.