I’m a little ambivalent about the Nottingham trams really. Perhaps that’s because I don’t use them very frequently, although at odd times I find them useful. It seems all is not well in the business though and major problems are on the horizon.
The company, Tramlink, recently filed its annual accounts – some four weeks late. They showed a loss of £18m, this loss in addition to a previous loss of £48.5m in the previous year. Those losses are said by Tramlink to reflect the cost of new trams and the construction of new routes.
Further, debts of £24m from 2017 have risen significantly to a worrying £307m in 2018, including in excess of £277m in bank loans.
When I observe the trams in the city they are often very full – indeed uncomfortably so with people crowded into them like sardines in busier periods, which can be quite protracted. Unlike during quieter periods, they can be overheated, overcrowded and arguably dangerous to a degree. They most certainly are unpleasant at those times of day. Just last week saw major disruption in services practically most days due to power outages and servicing of trams.
So what is going wrong, with the apparent business and customers being evident and plentiful? Many feel that a large amount of individuals actually don’t pay to use the service. That if detected they are merely asked to leave the tram in which case they simply wait for for the next one along in just a few minutes. In my experience ticket inspectors appear rare though that may not be a true overview I’m not sure. What does seem certain is that negotiating the length of a busy tram in order to inspect tickets is a problematic affair with fare dodgers simply alighting when they spot an inspector approaching from a distance. Gone are the days when conductors were employed on the trams – arguably as a cost-cutting measure that has very much rebounded. This is to say nothing of the issues of security and safety on this form of public transport.
Part of the city’s landscape changed and was disrupted greatly when areas were ripped apart to lay tramlines and their associated street furniture, stations et al. Many people, including myself for some time, paid and still pay a Workplace Parking Levy charge within the city boundaries to undoubtedly fund this major project. It would be simply disastrous for it to fail at this point – so much has been invested in it in all sorts of ways. Perhaps the companies that have run the service have been a little penny-wise and pound-foolish I don’t really know. The days of free tram rides for those not qualified for them really have to end for the system to flourish, it appears to me though