Edinburgh’s Trams are not a good User Experience!


We went to Edinburgh yesterday. When we go at the weekend, we tend to make use of the park & ride at Ingliston and take the Tram in to the City Centre. It saves paying a ridiculous amount for parking, and it’s a lot less stressful.

Over the past couple of years I’ve observed the process of buying a ticket for the tram. It’s terrible, and it seems as though no thought has been given to the passenger – particularly if they’re from overseas. For many people arriving at Edinburgh Airport, the tram will be their first experience with Scottish hospitality, and it’s not a good one.

First of all, there are signs saying that you MUST buy a ticket before you get on the tram. However, if you’re not a native English speaker, then there’s a good chance that you’ll miss these, and then run the risk of a fine (or on-board ticket as the website calls it) of £10.

The number of times we’ve arrived at Ingliston just as a tram is pulling in, and been unable to get on because we haven’t got a ticket yet, must be into double figures. In the winter, when the wind whips through, those 10-15 minutes can be awful. So cold!

I’ve noticed visitors from Japan & America struggle to pay with their cards – which don’t have chip & pin – at the ticket machines. The little keyboard that you’re meant to enter your PIN on is also too low – unless you happen to be 5′ 2″.

Today, on our way back to Ingliston, we witnessed a ridiculous situation. A young German girl had got on at Princes St without a ticket. The ‘Ticket Services Assistant’, to be fair to him, didn’t try to charge her £10. Instead, he gave her change so that she could get off the tram, buy a ticket, and then get back on the next tram. Is that really how we should be treating visitors to our country?

I think the trams are great, let’s get that out there. It’s just that NO THOUGHT has been given to making this a simple process for the user. It’s been designed entirely with the needs of the Tram Company at the core, and in my view that’s COMPLETELY THE WRONG WAY AROUND. It needs to be designed around the User’s needs – make it easy for them.

Have you used the Trams? What’s been your experience? Let me know!

2 thoughts on “Edinburgh’s Trams are not a good User Experience!

  1. I totally agree with you on this, it has been a frustration for me as well. Also when you have 3 kids with you it can be difficult to remember to buy a ticket first as you are trying to make sure they don’t get tram’d down!

    It doesn’t make any sense why it is this way and you are correct doesn’t set us (Scotland) in a good light.

    Great posts, hopefully someone will take note!

    1. Thanks Jen. I’d love to talk to the person(s) who designed the system this way. What research did they do? Which other cities did they model this on? Why did they decide to make it so difficult for users? I’d love to know the answers….

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