Posts filed under 'Transport'

Airplane III – the disconnection

Add comment September 25th, 2010

On Thursday I took my friend to the airport for her flight back to Amsterdam. What a shambles! Of course getting there is the first problem in Edinburgh – the traffic as usual was hopeless despite it not being rush hour, but I’ll leave that for the next post. Arriving at the airport showed just how useless our transport systems and planning are.

First we have traffic lights at the roundabout that you reach after leaving the dual-carriageway. There is only one way to go at this roundabout – to the airport – so why put in traffic lights? All that happens is that traffic going to or coming from the airport is held up while the other sequence waits for any traffic that’s just come off the dual-carriageway to rejoin it; hardly a likely scenario. So that was the first holdup, but worse was to follow. As we approached the airport and the turnoff to the car park the traffic slowed to a crawl, including taxis.

When we eventually arrived we found that the usual entrance was blocked off but information was completely lacking and the diversion signs seemed to take you back out away from the airport. As a result people were stopping in a cramped area and letting their passengers out, blocking any other traffic from getting through. Clearly this was not the intended action but the Police Traffic Warden was just standing around making no attempt to advise anyone or prevent the blocking of the road. Maybe he realised that the situation he’d been left with was untenable.

I was forced to do the same as everyone else and then when I was finally able to get out from the confusion I drove around back to the now sole entrance to the short-stay car park to find part of it being dug up, but as usual very little in the way of help as to where to go. Had there been any indication that this was now the only way in and that this was the best place to use for dropping off travellers then this could all have been avoided.

Recently we’ve heard that the airport plans to charge people £1 for just dropping off travellers – an unbelievable action that is completely without justification, so it’s unclear whether this crazy situation is part of the preparation for that, but this is just another example of the way Edinburgh seems determined to discourage visitors. It’s bad enough that they are treated this way when trying to leave, but the welcome when they arrive is regularly just as bad. On a number of occasions I’ve returned from trips to find the arrival process positively hostile and the transport provision almost non-existent. On one occasion my father and I arrived at around 10pm on a Saturday night to find that there were no taxis for an hour – the many tired and irritated people, many with young children, forced to queue with no seating wore expressions of astonishment at the lack of facilities. The bus and taxi points seem to be in different places on every visit and like everything else are poorly and confusingly signed even in English, and there seems to be no sensible long term plan for protecting people from rain and bad weather – the glorified bus shelters doing very little. Compared to most international airports there is virtually no signage in foreign languages. Generally the feeling is that no-one cares about visitors and the impression they get on arrival.

Meanwhile the tram system – if it ever gets finished which is looking doubtful – will not go to the terminal but will stop at a park-and-ride from where travellers will have to board a shuttle bus. Of course most European cities have trains from their airports. In Zurich they run under the airport with escalator connections and you never have to step outside. In Amsterdam the railway can have you in the city centre in minutes, in Frankfurt, in Brussels, in countless other cities it would be unthinkable to not have a railway connection. Edinburgh has a railway line that passes close by, yet again and again the suggestion that it actually have a connection has been knocked back by planners and politicians. Short term finances are put ahead of any sort of vision, any sort of integration, any hint of green planning, or any consideration for passengers and visitors.

As my friend asked – why do we put up with it and why is it that no-one is held responsible? She was glad to be heading back to Holland where things are done differently. I wonder how many other visitors to Edinburgh never return?