The Edinburgh Trams operate a 16 stop network from York Place in Edinburgh New Town to Edinburgh Airport, located west of the city. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll be answering all your most frequently asked questions about the Edinburgh Tram network.
Ticket Types, Cost and Where To Buy
You have a few options here. But first, it’s important to note that you must be able to present a valid option to the on-board conductor. If you don't , you’ll be charged a £10 ‘on-board fare’ which, as you might guess, is a lot more expensive than a standard ticket.
Also, there are 2 distinct zones. The ‘Airport Zone’ only includes the Edinburgh Airport stop. All of the 15 other stops are located in the ‘City Zone’. Travelling to and from the airport is more expensive.
So, what are your ticket options?
I’ve outlined your ticket options and prices in the table below. The trams are not normally free to ride (unless you use a Scottish Concession Card issued by Edinburgh City Council - more on that below) but a free night service is expected on Hogmanay (early hours of January 1st).
There are a range of single, return, day, night and multi-day tickets. All single, return (and mobile tickets) must be used within 30 mins of purchase, activation or validation. You also need to purchase, activate or validate your ticket/smartcard before you board. If you don’t you’ll pay the onboard fare, which costs £10.
There is a ticket vending machine at each tram stop. Vending machines accept Mastercard, Maestro, Visa and Visa Electron with a minimum spend of £3. Plus, you can pay via contactless, Apple Pay or Android pay.
Alternatively, you can pay with cash. Only 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 coins are accepted and no change is given.
You can purchase mobile tickets on the 'My m-tickets' section of the Transport For Edinburgh App.
All tickets for multiple passengers in your party must be purchased on separate devices (with the exception of Family Day tickets). This is the ‘One Passenger Per Device’ rule that Edinburgh Trams enforce.
To activate the tram ticket, you scan the tickets QR code at the tram stop before you board. Keep your phone handy as you will have to show either the conductor or the tram driver the ticket on your phone screen.
The Edinburgh Tram network accepts Ridacard, Citysmart and Scottish National Entitlement Cards.
Ridacard:The season ticket. Includes unlimited use (24/7) of Edinburgh Trams (both zones) and Lothian Buses (Lothian City Bus, NightBus, Airport Bus, Lothian Country and East Coast Buses)
Citysmart: A top-up ticket smartcard for single journey tickets. Can be loaded with up to 50 adult single journeys. Must be topped up at a Travelshop, Park & Ride kiosk or on a Lothian bus.
Scottish Concession Card: Only valid if issued by the City of Edinburgh Council.
You must validate any smartcard at a tram stop smartcard validator machine before you board. Just wait for the green tick to appear. Once validated, you must board the tram within 30 minutes.
When Do The Trams Run?
The Edinburgh Trams operate a frequent service (usually every 3 minutes unless there’s disruption) from early morning to late at night. However, the trams are not a 24 hour service:
From Edinburgh Airport to York Place - 1st tram departs at 6:15am and last tram departs at 10:48pm.
From York Place to Edinburgh Airport - 1st tram departs at 5:30am and last tram departs at 11:30pm.
how Long Do The Edinburgh Trams Take?
The full one-way route (Edinburgh Airport to York Place ) takes around 40 minutes.
Is There Luggage Storage On The Tram?
Yes, there are large luggage racks located throughout the tram.
Are The Trams Wheelchair Accessible?
Yes, the trams are wheelchair accessible and each tram stop has a ramp and lift if required. There is a wheelchair space positioned near the tram doors.
Can I Take A Bike On The Tram?
Yes, up to 2 bikes can be placed on board the tram. However, this is at the discretion of the on-board conductor. You can place the bike in the buggy/wheelchair/bike space but wheelchair users are given priority.
Note also that during events, like Edinburgh’s International Festival, restrictions apply on peak services.
Can I Take A Pram/Buggy On The Tram?
Yes, but you are recommended to bring a smaller, easily foldable buggy if you can. If your buggy isn’t foldable, you can park it in the buggy/wheelchair/bike space but wheelchair users are given priority.
Can I Travel With A Mobility Scooter?
Yes, but a permit scheme is in place. You can apply for a permit if you hold a valid Scottish National Entitlement Card (SNEC) or a Disabled Person’s Blue Badge permit. For more information or to apply for a permit, visit this section of the Edinburgh Trams website.
Are Animals Allowed On The Trams?
Yes, but only at the driver or conductor’s discretion. If there is room on the tram, you will be allowed to take a guide dog, assistance dog or learning dog.
All dogs must be kept on a lead and all other animals must be secured in a cage or carrying case. You are responsible for the animal in transit.
Do The Trams Run Every Day Of The Year?
The trams normally run 7 days a week. However, there are exceptions around the holidays. Expect a reduced or altered service on Christmas Eve, December 30th, Hogmanay, and January 1st. And expect no service on Christmas Day.
Is The Tram Network Being Extended?
Yes, the original plan (phase 1a) was to build a tram line from Edinburgh Airport to Newhaven (near Ocean Terminal). However, the line from York Place to Newhaven was never built.
In early 2019, Edinburgh City Council approved an extension to the tram network down Ocean Drive to Newhaven, effectively completing phase 1a.
Another extension has been proposed which would see the tram network extended over North Bridge towards Edinburgh BioQuarter and Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. But these plans are still in early stages.
How Did We Find The Tram Experience?
On our most recent trip on board the trams, we parked at Ingliston Park and Ride and rode the tram to Princes Street. And if you want to avoid Edinburgh’s extortionate parking charges, this makes a lot of sense. It’s free to park at Ingliston so you just have to pay for the tram into town. Plus, even though you’re extremely close to the airport, you’re in the ‘City Zone’ which has the reduced ticket rates.
One thing to bear in mind is that this is no express service. The trams stop at each and every stop so the journey took us around 35 minutes one way. That being said, you don’t have to deal with Edinburgh traffic. You don't have to deal with the 20mph city centre speed limits. And you avoid the high car parking charges.
We were travelling at non-peak time and had no issue getting a seat. We were, after all, only competing with a handful of Edinburgh Airport and Ingliston passengers.
The trams are extremely quiet (in terms of noise) and you’re aware that you’re travelling on a more environmentally friendly form of public transportation. On that note, we did spot quite a few EV parking spaces at Ingliston Park and Ride.
According to Zap Map, there are currently seven EV chargers at Ingliston. Four 22kW Type 2 chargers, one 43kW Type 2 charger, one 50kW JEVS charger and one 50kW CCS charger.
The tram ride also had a few scenic points along the route. Views over to Arthur’s seat, modern office buildings at Edinburgh Park (if you’re into that sort of thing) and Edinburgh Castle, as you transited down Princes Street.
The conductors that we experienced were all friendly and helpful. One held the tram at a station to let a passenger grab his bags and get off.
In all, there are pluses and minuses to the service. But, if you’re not in a rush and you’re looking for a relatively cheap, efficient and clean mode of transport to, from and around Edinburgh, then the trams are for you.
We’d like to thank Edinburgh Trams for inviting us to use their service. As per usual, all opinions are our own. Are you planning on using the Edinburgh Tram network? Or, if you’ve already used it, how did you find the service? Let us know in the comments section down below.