I mentioned in my previous post that I’m not a regular public transport user. So it’s unusual for me to say that I’ve been on not just one but two forms of public transport in the same week. The first being a bus to take part in a demo for a new wheelchair securement system and the second being Edinburgh Trams. Both were great experiences as a wheelchair user.
A few weeks ago we tried to take our nephew to a museum in Edinburgh, but once we got there we could not get parked anywhere near the museum. We drove around for ages looking for somewhere to park to the point our nephew fell asleep. In the end, we decided to cut our losses and try another day.
So this past Friday we decided to try again and rather than risk having the same issue with parking, we thought it would be good to try the Edinburgh Trams since we’ve heard so many good things about it, but not from anyone in a wheelchair so I was a little curious of the accessibility.
We drove to Ingliston Park & Ride and found parking so easy. There are 46 disabled parking bays in the car park and 4 of which are right at trackside. We managed to get parked in one of the trackside disabled bays and we were impressed by how close we were to the actual tracks (as you can see in the photo above). It was incredibly convenient and perfect for anyone with mobility problems.
Buying tickets is also super easy and only costs £1.50 per adult and £0.70 per child aged 5-15. Our nephew is under 3 so we didn’t have to pay for him, but he was happy to be in charge of our tickets.
There are wheelchair symbols on the path indicating where to position yourself before boarding the tram. Once the tram stops, lights flash on the doors and that’s when you can push the button to open the doors. I wouldn’t be able to reach the button if I was travelling on my own, but we asked the Assistant what happens in situations when the wheelchair user can’t press the button. He told us that tram drivers would look in the mirrors and if they see a wheelchair user waiting they would activate the doors to open for them. This was reassuring to hear as I was a little concerned when I realised the doors didn’t open automatically.
A video I made of my first time using Edinburgh Trams:
Getting on the tram was quick, easy and didn’t require a ramp, unlike many trains. The entrance to the tram was flat and smooth. As soon as you enter the tram you’ll find the wheelchair space directly on the left or right with plenty of space for turning and manoeuvring. Even larger wheelchairs and scooters would find there is enough space for this.
Unlike buses, wheelchair users aren’t required to travel rear-facing. I noticed on both journeys, going and coming back, I was sat facing forward.
There are buttons next to the wheelchair spaces that allow you to open the doors when you reach your stop or to speak to the driver through an intercom if you need help.
Our stop was at Princes Street and getting off the tram was just as easy as getting on. I couldn’t believe how simple and straightforward it was.
Usually, when I want to travel by train I’d have to call at least 24 hours in advance to book assistance. Not great if you are feeling spontaneous or make last minute plans one day. Booking assistance means that someone will be there with portable ramps to help me get on and off the train. Unfortunately, there have been occasions when they’ve forgotten and no-one was there to help.
This is one of the reasons I’d never feel comfortable to travel solo by train. However, I would feel more confident to travel on the tram by myself as it’s a much easier and hassle-free process.
Experiencing Edinburgh Trams for the first time as a wheelchair user was very enjoyable. I found the trams to be extremely wheelchair accessible from start to finish even the convenience of the disabled parking bays at trackside. I loved the ease of getting on and off the tram without having to wait for someone to place portable ramps down for me.
The journey was also very smooth and I didn’t feel unsafe or feel like my wheelchair was moving around or in danger of tipping. All in all, it was a great experience and has encouraged me to use the Trams more often whenever I want to go to Edinburgh or when I’m going to a gig whether at Murrayfield Stadium (there is a stop at the Stadium) or in the City Centre.
Have you used the Trams yet? What’s your thoughts on them?