Joint decision to pull evening trams at Tramlines festival defended as 'safest decision for wider community'
The decision to cancel evening trams at last weekend’s Tramlines festival has been defended by those involved following criticism from a Sheffield councillor
The decision to cancel all evening trams during the Hillsborough Park-based festival just 24 hours before the event began drew criticism last week.
Stagecoach planned to provide 15 extra trams post-event, but cancelled them and all others citing that it did not have the means to run them due to self-isolating staff.
In a letter published in The Star on July 28, Hillsborough ward councillor Christine Gilligan Kubo, for the Green Party, called the move was “irresponsible” and criticised it as a “private commercial decision”.
She wrote: “Tramlines did not want to manage the extra safety issues at tram stops with not enough trams to get everyone home.
“A short-notice decision to leave thousands without their planned transport home and local residents with no tram service is irresponsible.
“It will have forced many more people into cars and created new unplanned safety issues as thousands had no choice but to walk home.
“Tramlines without trams – it must not be allowed to happen again.”
Now, in a letter written to The Star and signed by Stagecoach, Tramlines and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive bosses in response to the councillor’s criticism, the three organisations defended their joint decision as “the safest decision for the wider community”.
It states that by the weekend of Tramlines, a third of tram drivers were unavailable.
The letter reads: “The uncertainty over how many more staff could become unavailable as the week progressed meant that we could find ourselves in a position where we would struggle to run any number of services, not just the agreed Tramlines specials.
“[...] following a thorough onsite risk assessment with the local authority and police, significant concerns were raised around the safety of trying to move thousands of people without the guarantee of being able to provide the extra Tramlines special services.
“As no other suitable alternatives were available the joint decision to withdraw evening tram services was made with people’s safety at the forefront of our minds. It would not have been safe to try and move thousands of people on a significantly reduced tram service.
“We all support the Tramlines festival and welcome the investment this brings to the city. However, we have an obligation to run safe services and do everything we can to protect the essential services needed to ensure people can still to travel to work and carry out essential journeys.
“This was a difficult decision to make and we understand the impact it will have had on Tramlines visitors, however we stand by the decision that it was the safest decision to be made for our wider community.
“We will continue to work closely together to ensure that at future Tramlines events, we can provide the service needed to support the event – and that will hopefully be at a time when circumstances outside of our control (such as the Test and Trace system) will not be a barrier to us being able to do this.”