Member for Garff, Daphne Caine enquired about the Island's horse trams in yesterday's sitting of Tynwald. her question pertained to the passenger numbers and financial performance of the horse trams during the 2016 season; and whether they will be operated in 2017?
Minister for Infrastructure, Ray Harmer, confirmed that the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway had enjoyed a very successful year, with significant increases in the total number of passengers carried and the overall revenue generated.
"The total number of passengers carried in 2016 increased to 69,542 from 48,722 the previous year.
"The season was extended from mid-September until the end of October, but in practice operated for only 13 more days than in 2015. The horse trams operated daily during the peak summer period and on a limited basis at other times in line with the Isle of Man’s other heritage railways.
"The revenue taken on the horse trams also increased, from £57,915 in 2015 to £83,557 this year.
"The budget for the horse tramway anticipated a loss of around £100,000 and a number of bodies made offers to contribute towards that total. However, as a result of the 44% increase in revenue, the net deficit is expected to now not exceed £60,000"
Mr Harmer went on to express his thanks for the support of the horse tram staff and those in the heritage railway operation who pulled together to achieve this impressive turnaround.
"We should also recognise the value of our heritage railways to the wider Manx economy. An independent report in 2012 estimated the contribution to be £11 million, and we have invested to grow the sector since then."
He concluded by adding: "In response to the second part of the question, Tynwald supported the Department’s proposal to operate the Douglas Bay horse trams in 2017 and 2018 while discussions continue about the long-term viability of the service. My aim is to secure the long term future for the horse trams."