Local Transport Today is the authoritative, independent journal for transport decision makers. Analysis, Comment & News on Transport Policy, Planning, Finance and Delivery since 1989.

In Passing

03 October 2014

For many years now, the LTT editorial office has regarded the Edinburgh tram scheme as the gift that just keeps on giving. This seemingly endless stream of hilarious stories may now well be coming to an end but, if this is the case, things are ending with a bang because the final ‘sign off’ costs of the project have just been revealed and they indicate that the final bill will be close to £1bn. The project, the city council has recently revealed, was delivered on its revised budget of £776m but, when interest payments of £228m on a loan taken out to cover the budget overrun are taken into account, the true cost to the City of Edinburgh is nearer £1bn. £427,238,356 of this money went to the InfraCo consortium, including contractors Bilfinger Berger and Siemens, representing four-fifths of the original budget and more than £100m higher than the £300m anticipated when the project launched in 2007.

We live an a world of increasingly ‘open’ data and few of us would, presumably, regard this as anything but a good thing. Transport for London has very much led the way in providing anyone who asks for it with any data they want and now TfL has come up with information that every user of the public transport network has needed at one time or another - data on where the public toilets are. Phew. What a relief.

Using a mobile phone while driving is, in the UK at least, a criminal offence. But only if you are using a hand-held phone – hands-free phone conversations are quite legal. Which is probably not a good idea, if recent research from France is anything to go by. Because this research found that anyone using a mobile when driving was distracted to quite a worrying degree, irrespective of whether or not the phone was hand-held or otherwise. Indeed, when questioned about incidents that had taken place whilst they were driving, some 40% of mobile phone user claimed to have witnessed events that had not actually taken place – but were actually ‘decoys’ planted by the researchers. Worrying.

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