Fewer than 1,500 people took a ride on the horse trams during TT fortnight – meaning it cost more to staff the trams than it made in fares.
The decision of the Department of Infrastructure to open up a tiny section of the horse tram tracks for this season – between Strathallan and Switzerland Road – has caused raised eyebrows, especially from traders whose businesses are suffering a loss of trade due to the £20 million promenades refurbishment scheme.
Some also argued that the operation of horse trams during the TT added to congestion at peak times, but this has been rejected by the government.
Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer, in response to written House of Keys questions from Rob Callister (Onchan), said 1,439 passengers went on the horse trams during TT fortnight.
He said the ’direct additional cost’ of operating the trams during the TT was £2,174.40, which related to staffing.
Due to the fact that only a tiny fraction of the horse tram route was open, a flat rate of £1 was charged per journey. That means that the trams made a net loss of more than £700.
In response to a separate question from Douglas East (Clare Bettison), Mr Harmer revealed the DoI spent £24,000 buying a second-hand marquee to house the horse trams, as the depot is being replaced.
He said a new marquee would have cost more than £96,000.
The minister insisted there were ’future plans for its use within government’ once the new horse tram depot was built.
All of the island’s heritage railways are subsidised by the taxpayer.